Jewish ruler didn’t need a sign from our Lord Jesus

Published 1:45 am Saturday, December 1, 2018

You can tell the future. Yes, you!

You can raise your eyes to the heavens and know what’s going to happen. Yes, YOU!

In fact, since you were a child—from the moment you learned the rhyme—you learned to tell the future: Red sky at night, sailors delight; Red sky in the morning, sailors warning.

Some are grinning. I see you.

But do you know when mankind learned of the importance of the red skies? Was it from the Indians at the first Thanksgiving? Was it from Columbus who sailed the ocean blue in 1492? Or from a worker’s inscription on the Tower of London built in 1066?

No, Sirree. Those signs predicting the weather were well known over 2,000 years ago.

We’re certain because of these words: “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today for the sky is red…’”

Those are the words of Jesus. Matthew 16:2-3

What was going on? It seems the Jewish rulers had come to Jesus, asking Jesus to show them a sign from heaven. And the Gospels tell us this wasn’t the first time: “The Pharisees came… seeking from Him a sign from heaven…” “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” Mark 8:11, Matthew 12:38

Even those who followed Jesus, who saw healings and were among the 5,000 fed with a few fish and loaves, aren’t satisfied. They ask Jesus: “What sign do you do, that we may see and believe you?” John 6:30

Sadly, just before the crucifixion, even Herod will try to get Jesus to perform a sign. Luke 23:8

But Jesus realized early on that his ministry was becoming a dog and pony show. That’s why you see Him disappear. Everyone is searching for Him, and they find Jesus in a lonely place praying. 

Our Lord had a ministry. And it wasn’t: “I’m God. Woohoo—look at all I can do!”

Jesus says, “Let’s go.” He’s off to places where He can still teach and share the kingdom of God.

Everyone in Alabama is quite proud of Harper Lee, Nobel Prize-winning author of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” I told Andalusia Star-News editor Michele Gerlach recently that Lee paid too high a price for that Nobel prize. She didn’t write again for 55 years.

Success threw Harper Lee completely off course.

Jennifer Probst, in “Writing Naked,” talks about how her book went to auction and sold for a million dollars. She says success can be brutal, and she found support in God.

You see many celebrities who cannot live with the attention and changes fame brings. They end up destroying themselves with drugs, fast cars, anger, suicide.

Jesus started asking those who received healings not to tell anyone. Success had shaped His ministry in ways that weren’t good.

So when the rulers come once again asking Jesus for a sign from heaven, our Lord speaks of how easily they understand the red skies but cannot interpret other wonders—the signs of the times. Jesus fulfilled Scripture. Jesus was the Messiah.

But one Pharisee isn’t like the rest.

Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night—apparently afraid—and wants to be with Him, to understand. Nicodemus doesn’t ask for a sign. He says, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher come from God, because no one could do these signs…unless God is with him.”

Nicodemus had a sincere heart and an open mind. This is what Jesus wanted; to share the kingdom of God.

And guess what happens—our Lord tells Nicodemus the most important words in Scripture: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, might not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Many still come to Jesus, but not to know Jesus. They’re at church to see friends, Bible study yields game-show knowledge, and prayer is to get God onboard with their wishes.

Jesus said, “Their hearts are hard, their ears are dulled.” Matthew 13:15

Why do you come to Jesus? What do you want?

Want Jesus. Come first with an open heart, willing to listen, wanting to change.

Nicodemus needed to know Jesus, Nicodemus didn’t need a sign.

© 2018 R.A. Mathews.  The Rev. R.A. Mathews is a freelance faith columnist and the author of “Reaching to God: Great Truths from the Bible.” Her email is