God Gives Us Signs So We Can Draw Closer To See The Fuller Message
18 The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”
19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
Signs in the Bible would precede great events, or validate what a prophet was saying. Jesus had been performing great signs and wonders in front of the people’s eyes day in and day out. He had cast out demons, healed people, brought people back from the dead, turned water into wine, fed thousands of people from a small boy’s lunch of fish and bread, and many other miracles.
But the people kept demanding signs. They weren’t satisfied with what they were seeing with their very own eyes. Like anyone who seeks after signs and wonders, they wanted to see more. Jesus had just fulfilled a prophecy about Himself by exhibiting zeal for His father’s house using a whip, driving out the market that was taking place on the Court of the Gentiles at the holy temple of God. Jesus decided to use this opportunity to present us with an object lesson. When asked what sign He would give to prove His authority, He gave a cryptic puzzle.
Jesus provided them with something that they could not possibly have understood at the time. He gave them a cryptic puzzle indeed – How could a temple that took forty-six years to build be rebuilt in three days? The Bible gives us clarification – Jesus was talking about His body. And on April 5, 33 C.E.***, Jesus rose from the grave. This sign confirmed that what Jesus said was true and accurate. But they didn’t know or understand that until it happened.
John records that it was only after Jesus had died and rose again that they remembered the words that He had spoke on that fateful day – a day they would not soon forget. Their meek, compassionate teacher, in righteous anger and indignation, created a major scene at the temple, and did things that were shocking to everyone. Many times, we will only remember the sign and understand its meaning and significance AFTER it has occurred:
- A virgin birth (June, 2 B.C.E)
- The temple was raised up three days after it was destroyed (April 5, 33 C.E.***)
- The dry bones became flesh (May 15, 1948 C.E.)
In every sign ever given by God, we tend to recognize them only after they have occurred, and remember the prophecy of the sign later.
John records that after they remembered Jesus’ words, they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken. It was the fulfillment of the sign that had catalyzed their faith and made it solid as rock in their hearts and minds. Signs are given to us to believe and to verify. But every sign is designed to draw us closer so that we might see the fuller message:
- When Moses saw the burning bush, what did he do? He drew close to see the fuller message.
- When the Magi from the East saw Venus and Jupiter in conjunction, what did they do? They traveled from Babylon to Jerusalem to see the fuller message.
- When we see a headline in a story about something important or sensational, what do we do? We draw closer to see the fuller message.
People were created by God in His own image. God must be very curious, for humans are very curious creatures. When we see something, we draw close rather than run away. And when we do, and we gain the greater understanding, we are rewarded with a firmer faith and trust in God.
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask a question: What will we do when we draw close and get the fuller message once we see the sign?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, You have created all things, and have given us signs and wonders to behold, as recorded in Your word. Help me as I read Your word, and see the signs that You have provided, that I will draw closer to You and get the fuller message. Strengthen my faith, and provide me with understanding, wisdom, and discernment as I read Your word that I would better understand what You are trying to tell me. Help me to recognize the signs, and to be vigilant when I see them to draw close and learn. Blessed be Your name forevermore! Amen.
Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?
*** This can be verified through clues that we have from the Bible. Jesus was crucified on Preparation Day, the day before Passover started. This is important, because the Bible tells us this was a Friday (the next day was to be a special Sabbath). Passover starts on the Jewish day of Nisan 15, therefore Nisan 14 is Preparation Day. Every year, dates appear on different days (for instance, January 1st is not always a Monday…). By calculating when Nisan 14 would have been on a Friday in the known time frame for Jesus’ crucifixion, there was only one day in history that fit that profile – April 3, 33 C.E. Therefore, Jesus rose from the grave on April 5, 33 C.E.