How would you validate a ministry or the legitimacy and authority of a man to function within his calling to preach the gospel? The scribes and Pharisees did it by asking Jesus Christ to perform a sign and a wonder for them, before they would believe.
In our text Jesus Christ is confronted with a dilemma. Some of the scribes and Pharisees were demanding to see Jesus perform a sign for them. The response of our Lord Jesus Christ is to be noted, calling them an evil and adulterous generation. In the moment His legitimacy was on trial. They were questioning His authority to teach the scriptures, and were also judging His actions as contrary to the law.
Why did Jesus respond in such a way?
The main reason is because He knew their intentions and motives. They were mischievous and had malicious intentions. The issue is that Jesus knew that their intention was not to become sincere and devoted followers of Him. This would have involved them repenting from sin and walking in the path of holiness and righteousness. Seeking a sign brings to the fore the intention to seek what you can get from someone.
In a biblical context, it is evil to use someone for your selfish benefits. The scripture condemns usury. Further to His first comment, Jesus calls them adulterous as well. He was pointing to an unfaithful people who has a tendency to break covenant. This is the danger when seeking a sign only, without seeking a relationship with the Saviour. Jesus was not going to satisfy their lusting after miracles-only.
The lusting of a miracle-only generation.
We the postmodern church live in a time of deception and apostasy. Believers are falling away from being followers of Christ to becoming followers of a specific personality or miracle-working man. Signs and wonders does not validate a ministry or calling. It is needful and helpful in edifying the body, but it does not supercede a sincere desire to fear God and to walk in His footsteps. The desire to live holy and obey the statutes of God is the outflow of someone who is walking by the Spirit of God.
Does this eliminate the fact that we should contend for a miracle?
The answer to this is a simple no. We should be contending for the miraculous, but never without seeking Christ who is the miracle-worker. The church has been infiltrated by many false prophets and teachers. Their sole purpose is to lead astray the gullible and those who lack discernment. They use witchcraft and sorcery to perform miracles and wonders and have gathered thousands of followers whose sole purpose it is to be prophesied over.
The greatest miracle.
The greatest miracle is summarised in the Sign of Jonah. Jonah was preserved in the belly of a great fish for three days, by a miracle in order to preach redemption to the Ninevites. The Ninevites in turn heard the message, believed and then repented. Conversion is the greatest miracle through the blood of Jesus Christ.
My pause for thought is for us as believers to be on guard against miracle-craving to the extent where we develop a lack of discerning the validity of calling.
If you have a comment or question, I’d gladly oblige with a response.
R. van Staden