I am a self-proclaimed Weather Nerd… it may be sad, but it is true. Living for most of my life in the snow belt of Western New York for most of my life where expecting regular snow events measured in feet might have fed this hobby of mine. Combine that with working in camping ministry and being on the watch for flare up summer thunderstorms and I guess it’s no wonder I watch the skies.
Weather events across the country have many of us watching the skies. Devastating tornadoes, intense heat waves and drought, immensely powerful hurricanes, strong winter storms bringing feet of snow and sustained below freezing temperatures have us on high alert and maybe stocking up on milk, bread and eggs (why do we do that any way?)
We’ve been fooled many times before; all too often the weather forecast turns out to be much ado about nothing. But we keep alert. Because knowing what is coming helps us plan and allows us to be prepared. Having life-impacting weather events sneak up on us isn’t most people’s idea of fun.
And many of us are (again) watching the skies… waiting in expectation… wondering at the signs of the impending weather.
As it turns out, humans have been watching for signs for a loooooong time and not just signs of the weather.
The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven.Matthew 16:1
God’s people had been watching the signs for generations; they knew the scriptures. The Pharisees and Sadducees could see the signs unfolding, but what did they see in them? With Jesus right in front of them, hearing Jesus teach, receiving reports of Jesus’ miracles, Did they see the Messiah? Did they see hope? Or did they see trouble and an undesired change from their status quo?
What they saw brought the two foes into an unlikely moment of alliance where together they demanded of Jesus more proof… another sign.
He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away.Matthew 16:2-4
His reply stings, as it should. Their motives were not pure, and Jesus knew that. The Pharisees and Sadducees experienced first hand Jesus’ ministry, authority, and miraculous acts but for all they could see they were blind to the truth not because their eyes were shut but their hearts were closed!
Jesus’ reply doesn’t just speak to that moment thousands of years ago… it speaks right to my heart because I’m watcher. It’s true, I watch the weather but I also study so much more! As I study the scriptures, learning about God, humanity and myself… and I find myself asking: how much have I missed? Where am I selfishly seeking another sign to something God has already settled?
I might not be coming before Jesus questioning His divinity but I am convicted of other ways I ignore the truths God has plainly shown me, which I instead question and ask for more proof.
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.Psalm 139:23-24
Jesus knew our struggles and He did not leave us helpless.
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.John 14:26-27
God offers us mercy, forgiveness and grace when we come to Him in confession. The Holy Spirit lives in us teaching, guiding in truth and convicting us when we’ve gone astray. In the moment with the Pharisees and Sadducees Jesus walked away but he never abandons us.