The Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and putting Jesus to the test, they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. But He replied to them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but are you unable to discern the signs of the times? An evil and adulterous generation wants a sign; and so a sign will not be given to it, except the sign of Jonah.” And He left them and went away.

Matthew 16:1-4

Every guess we make, every signal we interpret, is done by comparing what we see coming to what we have seen before. This is why experience is such a valuable resource! The tricky thing is, sometimes, the signs and patterns we are looking for don’t follow the patterns we are used to. Anyone who has ever read a weather report that turned out wrong knows that.

For Christians, we want to avoid the traps that the Pharisees and those who challenged Jesus authority fell into by seeking some confirmation that goes above and beyond what has been provided; this does not mean nodding blankly at the things we are taught however. You see, the Pharisees were already witness to the miracles of Jesus and to the effects thereof. What they wanted was a miracle on demand, a specially tailored proof of power for their whim.

As believers, we should be willing to listen to the counsel of scripture to test the spirits of prophets and teachers (1 John 1) and to compare that which is being taught to that which we already believe, following the example of the believers in Berea (Acts 17:9-11). Most importantly, through those things we continue to look forward, to make predictions and to plan for the future of the Church and to the salvation of many more souls.

Ethan Kirl

Originally published December 30, 2020