Matthew 16:1-12 (ESV)
1 And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. 2 He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ 3 And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. 4 An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed. 5 When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. 6 Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 7 And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, “We brought no bread.” 8 But Jesus, aware of this, said, “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? 9 Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 11 How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
After Jesus returned to the land of his own people, the religious leaders came at him again. The Pharisees and Sadducees didn’t get along with each other, but they willingly joined together in their common goal to get rid of Jesus. This time they wanted to see a “sign from heaven.” In other words, all the miraculous healings, demonic deliverances and signs up to this point weren’t good enough for them. They wanted to see something really spectacular, and then they claimed they would believe. Jesus was not happy with them and called them an “evil and adulterous generation.” They could and would predict the weather based on physical signs of coming rain or sunshine, but they refused to see the spiritual signs that were right in front of them. Jesus let them know they would be given no further signs. Jesus didn’t come to work signs for the sake of a show. He told them they had the sign of Jonah, and just as Jonah was in the fish for three days and nights, Jesus would be dead for three days and nights. It’s worth noting that if they waited for this sign, the sign of Jonah, they wouldn’t finally realize what happened until after Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection. In saying this, Jesus foretold their rejection of him as the promised Messiah.
These people had every sign necessary to believe, but it just wasn’t enough because they weren’t willing to submit to his authority. Do we want more signs from God before we will truly believe in him? We can think it would make more sense for God to just appear in the sky or write in the clouds for all to see, but even if God did that, those unwilling to believe would just explain it away or call it a cosmic fluke. We can see the creation of God all around us, we have been given a conscience that testifies within us to our guilt and need for forgiveness. We know that Jesus died to ransom us from the judgment we deserve and rose from the grave, proving that he accomplished what he set out to do. What other signs do we need? Let’s choose to turn from depending on signs and wonders, be satisfied with all that God has provided for us, and move ahead with our lives, fully trusting in him for all that he is calling us to do today.