Searching for a Sign

December 16, 2011 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Jennifer Slattery –

I’m a planner, a plotter, a long-term thinker. Give me a to-do list and a game plan and I’m content to trudge forward indefinitely. Send me on a detour and I’m likely to hit panic mode—especially if the end of the road is shrouded from view. So, when God first called me into writing—asking me to venture off my well-thought out, meticulously outlined, twenty-year plan—I spent a fair amount of time arguing.

Only I never openly admitted to this. Oh, no. I cloaked my arguments in “prayers for guidance and discernment.”

And God’s response? “I’ve already told you how to please Me.”

Bam!

In John chapter six, the crowds listening to Jesus raised the same smoke screen. They asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat’” (John 6:30-31).

A harmless question, right? On first glance, it appears no different than the one Thomas asked after Jesus’ resurrection (John 20:25).

And yet, Jesus offered night and day responses to the two demands. With Thomas, He provided exactly what Thomas needed—proof(John 6:26-28).

Why the difference? Did Jesus love Thomas more than the crowd?

In order to fully understand the event, we need to read the whole story. You see, the crowds weren’t looking for a sign, but instead, an excuse. They wanted a loophole, a reason to justify lack of faith.

John chapter six tells us this crowd followed Jesus wherever He went because “they saw His miraculous signs as He healed the sick.” A few verses down, Jesus offered them yet another sign and fed 5,000 hungry people by multiplying five barley loaves and two fish.

The next day, after a rather stormy night, the crowd returned, probably looking for more food—more answers to their physical problems in the here and now. At this point, Jesus directed them toward a bigger picture—an eternal picture, and initially, the people responded with enthusiasm.

“Then they asked him, ‘We want to perform God’s work, too.’” {Translation: How can we multiply loaves and fish?} ‘What should we do?’” (John 6:28).

Ah, how we like to work for things, to feel important, to see progress, and know we’re taking steps toward a logical end. But then God flips things; reminding us it’s not about us at all, but about trusting in Him.

“Jesus told them, ‘This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the One He has sent’” (John 6:29 NLT).

Uh-oh. This is no longer about bread and fish. Now Jesus told them to put action to their claims. To take a leap of faith.

And it was here that they demanded a sign: “So they asked him, ‘What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat’” (John 6:30-31 NIV).

And up went the smoke screen. “Give me one more sign, one more confirmation, a bit more clarity. Show me this is a foolproof plan, a well-marked trail. Give me a guarantee.”

To which God replied, “I’ve given you all the signs, all the evidence, all the clarity you need. Now it’s time to follow Me.”

About Jennifer Slattery

Jennifer Slattery writes for Christ to the World Ministries, Reflections in Hindsight and Samie Sisters and reviews for Novel Reviews. She's also written for Granola Bar Devotion, The Breakthrough Intercessor, Afictionado, The Christian Fiction Online Magazine and functions as the Marketing Representative for the literary website, Clash of the Titles. You can find out more about her and her writing at her devotional blog, http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com.

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