A Sign from God
(Matthew 12.38-42; Mark 8.12)
29 As crowds were gathering around Jesus, he said:
You people of today are evil! You keep looking for a sign from God. But what happened to Jonah is the only sign you will be given. 30 Just as Jonah was a sign to the people of Nineveh, the Son of Man will be a sign to the people of today. 31 When the judgment comes, the Queen of the South will stand there with you and condemn you. She traveled a long way to hear Solomon's wisdom, and yet here is something far greater than Solomon. 32 The people of Nineveh will also stand there with you and condemn you. They turned to God when Jonah preached, and yet here is something far greater than Jonah.
(Matthew 5.15; 6.22,23)
33 No one lights a lamp and then hides it or puts it under a clay pot. A lamp is put on a lampstand, so everyone who comes into the house can see the light. 34Your eyes are the lamp for your body. When your eyes are good, you have all the light you need. But when your eyes are bad, everything is dark. 35So be sure your light isn't darkness. 36If you have light, and nothing is dark, then light will be everywhere, as when a lamp shines brightly on you.
We are made with a love for light. Sunlight streaming through a window on a winter’s day breaks the pattern of storms and early twilight, and promises that our homes and hearts will survive the darkness. It would be a tragedy to shut out this rare wonder by pulling the curtains closed.
Spiritually, every generation has those who respond to the light, and those who prefer not to stir from their dim rooms. Jesus directs his critics to several faith heroes who were, in essence, lesser lights, and yet discerning listeners welcomed their message. He makes the bold claim that he would surpass Jonah’s miraculous ‘resurrection’ after three days in the fish and demonstrate a wisdom greater than Solomon’s. He steps forward as a living lamp, shining with truth. His message gave them the chance to escape the darkness of their blind eyes, so that they too might become a light for others.
When we stumble, our tendency is to place the blame outside ourselves. But perhaps the problem is within, and pride, ingratitude or self-absorption has blocked our vision of God. Rather than complain that he is not there, we should examine ourselves to identify what separates us from seeing him. As we shed these heavy layers, others can see the Christ-light through us.
Jesus, the true Light, compels his listeners and those of us still sceptical to open ourselves up to the glorious warmth of the gospel. If we are sitting in a dark room, it isn’t a failure of the sun to shine – it is that we have neglected to open the curtains. There is a world of wonder, growth and beauty outside.
Eternal God, you alone can scatter my darkness. Help me tear down the pride that blocks my vision of you. Make me pure so that your glory shines through me to others. I ask this in the name of your Son, the true Light of the world. Amen.