Sight does not equal faith...

I've been thinking about signs today. Not the kind you see on billboards or storefronts or even the movie by that name. Rather, signs as they relate to miracles. A cursory look at the word "signs" in Scripture shows at least two types of signs God gave to men. One, like the rainbow, was a type of covenant sign between God and people. The other were miraculous works to display God's power. (There could be more, but these two stand out to me.) Today, we celebrate Good Friday, a day in history when Jesus became a sign of a new covenant to all who would believe in Him. But before this day, he walked the earth healing the sick, casting out demons, raising the dead, turning water into wine, feeding thousands on a few loaves and fishes, and making even the wind and waves obey him. Some of these displays of God's power were seen at the time by only the disciples. Most were seen by the masses.

But few believed the signs or understood what they meant.

The Pharisees and scribes should have understood and believed because they knew the law and the prophecies. They were supposed to be the ones guiding others to the truth. But they were so wrapped up in their traditions, they missed the Scriptures they claimed to know. Like Isaiah's prophecy where he says, "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." One quick discussion with Mary would have given them the truth about Jesus' birth.

Or other prophecies like where the Messiah would be born, how he would be called out of Egypt, how he would give sight to the blind and free the captives. Jesus healed plenty of blind men and set many demon-possessed and other captives-of-the-soul free. But they could not see it...or chose not to.

Mark 8:11-13 says, "The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, "Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation." And he left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side."

The Pharisees already had been given a multitude of miracles - displays of God's power - as a sign to them of who Jesus is. But as Pharaoh of old in ancient Egypt hardened his heart against Moses and the Israelites, so the Pharisees hardened their hearts against Jesus. Their arguing and testing him made him "sigh deeply in his spirit." God the Father had a similar reaction when Israel grumbled against him and against Moses in the desert, when they forgot all of the signs he'd given them - signs given to help them believe.

Which goes to show - sight doesn't equal faith. We can see all the signs in the world and still not believe. Miracles can lead people to faith, and certainly part of why Jesus did them was to show the people he did possess God's power, to encourage them to believe. But Jesus also said, "Blessed are they who have not seen and yet have believed."

Signs have their purpose or God would not have used them. But the only sign that matters is the one we reflect on today - the sign of Jesus on the cross, paying the penalty for our sins. In this we rejoice. In this we believe.