Asking for Signs

Posted on 24 Feb 2010 in Reveal | 0 comments

Read the text here

Verses 29 to 32 resounded in my head…
My initial questions:
Who was asking for a sign?
How was Jonah a sign to the Ninevites?
Who is the Queen of the South?
How will the people of Nineveh judge this generation?
So then I read forward and backward in the ancient text in order to try to put this in context. So what did I find? I found a simple version of a famous Prayer. I found a story about a persistent neighbour. A story of Jesus casting out a demon. And the explanation that we are full of Light.
Verses 11:1-12
Jesus teaches his disciples to pray – and it’s about holiness and the desire to see the Kingdom of Light come. The Prayer is about asking for more of the Divine in our lives – in every way. When Jesus then illustrates with the story of the persistent neighbour, he is indicating that we need to keep asking, keep pressing into this Kingdom of Light and Love. It says that “even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will sure get up and give you as much as you need.” So I need to have shameless audacity.
I tend to forget that I am a child of the Divine, replete with divine authority on earth. As such, I can have shameless audacity to ask for more Light and Love, more of the Divine presence. “If we then, though we are evil, know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more will our heavenly parent give the Spirit of Love and Light to those who ask him?” The Divine is eager to give us increasing measures of the Presence.
Verses 11:33-36
Then, we have the understanding that with this presence comes Light. And that this Light is so pure that it chases out darkness completely.
So when it comes to casting out demons from frightened people(vv14-28), it is the indwelling of the Light that pushes out all the darkness.
The crowds asking for a sign aren’t satisfied by the casting out of demons and healing of a mute man. The crowds begin to think and say that Jesus is casting out demons by demons. He indicates that a kingdom cannot be divided. So even with these powerful signs, the crowd still wants more.
In the story of the prophet Jonah, it’s not the Ninevites that need a sign to believe in the Revelation of the Divine. Once the prophet arrives, they hear of the Divine will for them and believe, repent, and draw near. It is Jonah who needs the Sign of the Divine. He refuses to respond to the Divine heart of Love for the world and simply wants to stand in judgment.
The Queen of Sheba comes to question Solomon, having heard that he was wise – and she leaves believing in the Divine even more because of the Spirit of Wisdom she sees in his presence.
So really, in this comparison that Jesus makes, he is actually looking at two people who questioned the Divine. But when we look at their method of questioning, it begins to make sense how it is all connected to the Kingdom and Light. Jonah questions and runs away. He refuses to believe in the Goodness of Love to forgive the ruthless Ninevites. He decides that he knows better than the Divine, that the Divine must be mistaken. So the Divine must demonstrate his power and authority in order to help Jonah understand. When the tree withers, and Jonah finally understands the Divine compassion towards all people, then the question is answered. Jonah gives the True Word to the people – who are willing to receive it – and they are saved. With the Queen of Sheba, she also questions the Spirit of Truth. She wonders whether or not all that she has heard is too good to be true. But instead of running away, she runs straight to Solomon – the proclaimed vessel of the Spirit of Wisdom – and tests him with many hard questions. And in doing so, she finds answers. The Divine sticks with her, and when she surrenders the wealth of her kingdom to Solomon in response, Solomon gives it all back – and more besides.
In this portion of the text, people are questioning God, but they’re not coming to Jesus, the one who is manifesting the signs and healings – they’re muttering amongst themselves. And more than that, they are questioning the Goodness of the Kingdom of Light and Love. Further, they’re associating Jesus and his healings with EVIL. This is bad juju, for sure. Because even though Jonah ran away, at least he knew to whom the glory belonged – he just didn’t think the Ninevites were worthy of that glory. Sheba made a long journey to come straight to the Source. But these guys have the Truth right in front of them, showing them glory and healing, and they doubt and think divisive thoughts. They don’t even have the courage to come to Jesus to ask him.

Later in this gospel, there is the parable of two brothers – and the elder brother, the one who doubts whether his younger brother deserves God’s goodness… he’s the one left out of the party of the Presence.

They are not walking in shameless audacity to ask, seek, knock.
Because the Divine wants to give us the Spirit of all Truth, Love, and Wisdom in response to these doubts, these questions. To answer us with grace, compassion, tenderness, and light.
So, would you make us more like Sheba, pressing into Your Kingdom of Light and Love for the glory that lies therein? Would You answer our questions with more of Yourself, more of Your Spirit, more of Your presence?
Make us hungry for your answers, and available to shine Your Light out through our lives when we have them.
And help us to remember to respond with an ever widening, ever expansive concept of Your welcome, Your celebration, Your Love and Your life.