Do you think of yourself as a Doubting Thomas or a person of faith? I know I like to believe I am a person of faith, but doubt creeps in before I even realize it sometimes, and I find myself slipping into negative thinking and neglecting my time with God, which for me often leads little by little to impatience, a quick temper, worry, and trying to do things in my own strength rather than trusting in Him. Then I find myself worn out, tired with a stomach ache and a million worries going, “Lord, help!”
I know I’m not the only one. When I was reading Matthew 16, it hit me right between the eyes. Jesus spoke about this very thing.
The Pharisees and the Sadducees, it seemed, also had a problem with doubt. Verse 1 begins with the Pharisees and Sadducees testing Jesus and asking Him to show them a sign from heaven. I thought to myself as I read this, how often do I do the very same thing? “God, show me a sign!”
But Jesus refused. “He answered and said to them, ‘When it is evening you say, ”It will be fair weather, for the sky is red”; and in the morning, “It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.” Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky but you cannot discern the sign of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.’ And He left them and departed (vv 1-4).”
The Pharisees were so caught up in following laws and traditions that when the One that they had been waiting for was right there in front of them, they refused to believe it. There had already been healings. Mute people speaking, lame people now able to walk, blind people being able to see (Matt. 15:29-31). The Pharisees saw this and couldn’t believe that Jesus was the Messiah. They couldn’t stomach the idea of a servant King. In their minds, He was supposed to solve the political problems of the day and establish an earthly rule.
The Sadducees on the other hand did not believe in an afterlife. Hence, they denied the resurrection. From what I’ve read, they weren’t necessarily atheists, as they did believe in some tenets of the Torah with regard to the Law, but they largely denied the spiritual realm. In essence, as they saw it, people are created, they’re born, then they die. They too tested Jesus, asking for a sign. Is it possible that deep down they were starting to doubt their own philosophy, yet looking for a way to disprove it because it was easier to do that than to embrace change and the unknown?
Doesn’t it sometimes seem easier for us too to just try to reason things out on our own and “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps” than to trust God, who we can’t see? Or to keep our blinders on because it’s easier to remain comfortable than to step out of our comfort zone and embrace change?
See, when first reading this, it’s easy for me to say about the Pharisees and Sadducees, “Were they blind? Did they not see the miracles that Jesus was doing all around them?”
But, I need to ask myself the same question in my life when I start to doubt. “Am I blind? Do I not see all the miracles and changed lives because of Jesus? Has He not answered many prayers and saved me? Not just my soul, but rescuing me time and time again from myself.
What Jesus is getting at here is that the sign He gave them was Himself. The sign He gives us is Himself. His trip up the hill to Calvary, being crushed by the weight of the cross, then being nailed to that cross after having been mocked, beaten and suffering, and giving up His final breath on earth as He said, “It is finished.” Then, just when His haters thought they had won, He rose from the dead so that now you and I can have eternal life too. His very presence a sign in neon lights for sure!
Jesus talked with the disciples after the exchange with the Pharisees and Sadducees and explained how a little bit of false belief or doubt (in this instance the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees) can become a huge problem. He likened it to the way that yeast makes bread rise (vv 5-12).
When those thoughts of doubt, worries and stresses creep in, what I need most is more time with Jesus. Somehow, when I talk to the One who is in charge of miracles, I find that He changes me.
“Thank You Father, for Your Word, and for exactly what I needed to read today. Help me to remember You are more than enough, and that You are more than able. Forgive me for many times trying to figure things out on my own, and sometimes acting like I don’t need You. I do, Lord, I do need You desperately, every day, every hour. Forgive me for the times when I doubt. You proved Yourself faithful 2000 years ago, and You’re still faithful Lord. I pray for anyone reading this who may not yet have trusted You. I pray that they will ask You into their heart and life and that You will change them in a great way, that they will truly know Your precious gift of forgiveness and salvation by grace. Change me too, Lord. Make me more like You. I love You, Father. In Jesus name, Amen.