St. Matthew 12.vv.39-42

~ Then some of the Scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus, "Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you". But he answered them, "An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days and three nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth. The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgement of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here! The queen of the South will rise up at the judgement with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here!" ~

Asking for a "sign" was a tendency of the time of Jesus among people of a religious cast of mind. The Pharisees and Sadducees in particular were anxious to see signs; they desire to see God in the abnormal. Jesus said no sign would be given to overcome their doubts, for they have already received signs but are "blind". For Jesus the signs of God at work can be seen in the flowers, the corn, the yeast, the splendour of common life, the daily miracles around us. The poet has said, "One asked a sign from God, and day by day the sun arose in pearl, in scarlet set; each night the stars appeared in bright array; each morn the thirsty grass with dew was wet; the corn failed not its harvest, nor the vine; and yet he saw no sign". There are none so blind as those who will not see, we say. Poor John Baptist shut up in prison could not see, but Jesus reminded him how "the lame walked, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dumb speak ... God is active all around us".

Nevertheless in the Old Testament we have several references to what is called "Deus absconditus", that is, the "hidden God". Job said, "O that I knew where I might find him, that I might even come before his presence". Isaiah said, "Truly thou art a God that hidest thyself". With them we may have sympathy but for their faith we must have admiration.

What a difference it made when Jesus himself came to reveal the Father's love and concern for his children!

"He that hath seen me has seen the Father", Jesus said to Philip. "Come unto me", said Jesus. "Thou hast the words of eternal life. To whom else can we go?", asked Peter. "No man has seen God at any time", says the Fourth Evangelist, "but he who is in the bosom of the Father has made him known".

We may not see Jesus in his earthly ministry, but who can possibly doubt, with such evidence as the Gospels before us, the picture we receive of the one who moved around the streets and villages of Galilee bending over the sick, laying his healing hand upon a leper, comforting the poor and sad, talking to wayfarers and sinners, offering forgiveness, lifting those who lay in the dust and raising them to new hope, teaching, denouncing hypocrisy and sham, battling with evil, hanging upon a cross yet praying for his enemies, conquering pain, hatred and death and returning victorious to his Father's side.

Across that lovely life one word only can be written and that is "Love". "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father". God is love, he cares and his compassion never fails.

Only by faith, that is, putting our hands into God's hands and entrusting our lives to him can we really have the sign or proof of his great love for all his children.

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