What Signs We Seek

The Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them,‘When it is evening, you say, “It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.” And in the morning, “It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.” You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.’” So he left them and departed.

“When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, ‘We brought no bread.’ But Jesus, aware of this, said, ‘O you of little faith, why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand,.. or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things.., and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.’” Matthew 16:1-12,21-24

The human mind is fascinating and complex, yet limited. It shapes not only what we see, but what we seek, and why. The Pharisees had limited spiritual perception and desire, the disciples limited spiritual curiosity and maturity. Both stopped short of grasping the whole of Jesus. (1 Corinthians 2:14)


We observe, understand, desire, and decide within our personal framework, which is formed by upbringing, experience, personal proclivities, and trained perspective. We may grasp natural signs, and miss spiritual ones. We can shun temporary physical suffering, and neglect the awaiting glory that will outshine it. We see with the eyes, not as God sees the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7; Romans 8:18; Hebrews 12:2)

Jesus pinpoints the problem: ‘You are setting your mind on the things of man.’ Muddling through the slough of the material with a man-centered outlook, we miss the heavenly ‘sign of Jonah.’ God’s word repeatedly tells His story, spelling out the realities of suffering, redemption, divine provision for destitution, yet unless we learn to reorient our thinking, we will fail again and again to grasp His message.

What wants, prejudices, and preconceptions have I collected that blur God’s signs to me? Where am I dictating my demands, seeking my own ends, and missing the truth?

Lord, may I daily seek You first, and trust Your clear, unchanging word to guide me.

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