Today's reading comes from the Gospel of Luke (11:29-32) and concerns something I think many people today require of God in order to find faith: a sign.
When we pray, it is not uncommon to ask for a sign to know that we are being acknowledged or that we are moving in the right direction in life, and I'm sure that 2000 years ago the same was true.
But when He finds a crowd asking Him for a sign, Jesus is disappointed. He chastises the crowd and tells them that the words he has brought them are more valuable than the knowledge the Queen of Sheba sought from King Solomon or the preaching Jonah blessed the people of Ninevah with that moved them to repentance.
But what the crowd wanted wasn't words, it was action. They wanted their sick healed, their blind to see, and their deaf to hear. They wanted Jesus to manifest His power before them so they could see and believe, and this hurt Jesus.
It's not hard to understand where the crowd is coming from. If we want to believe in something, it's always a good idea to make sure that it's the truth or an ideal that won't lead us to do something we don't want to do, and we come to that conclusion through the accumulation of evidence. But in this case, the evidence that Jesus sought to provide to his followers wasn't the miracles they were so focused on, but the guidance and words he was giving them.
Don't judge others because we are guilty of our own sins, love your neighbor because God lives in them like he lives in you, don't ask others to do what you won't yourself, forgive your enemies because grudges keep you from the fullness of life, be honest to others and yourself, have faith that you are loved by God because Jesus loves you and you will receive all you need from the Father.
These are some of the ideas that Jesus tried to teach his apostles and those that followed him, and at that time in history (and today, too) these were pretty radical ideas. Some of them on the surface even appear to go against basic logic, and perhaps that is why Jesus' audience had a difficult time wrapping their heads around them and wanted proof in the form of a sign instead.
Of course, it may just be that the crowd wanted something easy to believe in, rather than having to question themselves about their world view? A"You're doing amazing things, so you must be right.", kind of mentality. And I think that for many people, then and today, this is how we like to approach things; it's easy to go with the flow and not question things too deeply and if we change our minds we aren't so invested that we have to sacrifice anything to jump ship.
Even as I write this article, I know I'm guilty of this myself- these articles are supposed to be brief meditations on the nature of Jesus Christ's teachings and my relationship with Him, but instead I've been working on this post for hours (this being its third iteration). Part of me wishes that I was spending this time doing art work, watching TV, or playing video games; something more fun and less risky than writing articles on religion that hardly anyone reads. But a greater part of me knows that this is a worthy cause, and the existence of this blog and the effort I've taken to write it will be beneficial to someone, even it's just myself. As Jesus told the crowd, "there is something greater here."
And it's this "something greater" that should be the goal faith leads us to, rather than seeking a momentary miracle. Faith should make the miracles, not miracles making the faith. So, let us look deeper in to the words the works of Jesus were based on and away from the spectacles that captivate so many, but fail lead us very far.
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