[Originally delivered on Saturday, November 20, 2010 at Worship Jam.]
Have you ever worked a job for a long time and then wondered if what you were doing was really making a difference.
As some of you may know, I have worked on a couple of political campaigns.
I met the candidates in many face-to-face meetings as we worked out the details of the campaign. Plans constantly changed depending on our research.
Right after the primary, the particular research I was doing was on the opposition.
We saw signs that they were real worried internally.
We saw other signs of weakness and came up with some strategies to use them to further our cause.
We looked for the signs and recognized them, and it saved the campaign
Matthew 11:2-6 (NIV)
2 When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples
3 to ask him, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”
4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see:
5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.
6 Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”
John the Baptist saw the signs of what Jesus was doing very early.
Remember when Jesus came upon John the Baptist and asked to be baptized? John tried to turn Jesus down saying Jesus should be the one baptizing as John did not feel worthy at all to Baptize Jesus.
Jesus convinced John to do it anyway and the Holy Spirit descended from heaven and alighted on Jesus. Then the Voice of God said:
Matthew 3:17 (NIV)
17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
That sign was a very hard one to miss.
Now John was thrown into prison for telling King Herod he was committing adultery – a crime punishable by death.
[Matthew 14:3-5 (NIV)
3 Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife,
4 for John had been saying to him: “It is not lawful for you to have her.”
5 Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of the people, because they considered him a prophet.]
While he was in prison he heard of even more of what Jesus was doing.
John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask Jesus: “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”
John certainly knew the answer to this question. He saw the Holy Spirit settle on Jesus right after he baptized Him.
And he definitely heard the Voice of God saying: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
You see, John saw the signs that Jesus was the one they were waiting for. John knew without a doubt that Jesus was the Messiah, the Savior.
Despite knowing Jesus was the Messiah, John still sent his disciples to Jesus to ask Him directly.
Did John lack faith? Did John need to be reassured that Jesus was the one? After all, John the Baptist was still bound and in prison.
Here is the answer: John knew he was approaching the end of his life. He saw signs that were pretty hard to miss: accusing a King of a crime that was punishable by death could definitely shorten one’s life expectancy.
John knew that.
John’s disciples may have also heard what Jesus was doing. John wanted to make sure they not only heard what Jesus was doing, but to get confirmation from The Man Himself.
Jesus answered John’s disciples. He told them:
4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see:
5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.”
Jesus presented John the Baptists disciples with some powerful signs:
- The blind receive sight.
- The lame walk
- Lepers are instantly cured.
- The deaf hear.
- The dead are even raised up.
Those are pretty powerful signs.
Jesus then tells them the most powerful sign of all: “The good news is preached to the poor.”
Jesus told John’s disciples all these things that in of themselves are really great signs – Jesus performed all these miracles.
Now the disciples of John the Baptist were also well versed in the prophets. Isaiah was one of those prophets.
Put yourself in the shoes of John the Baptists’ disciples. Now recall the words of the prophet Isaiah:
Isaiah 35:4-6 (NIV)
4 say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.”
5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
6 Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.
You now recognize that Jesus fulfilled the words of the prophet Isaiah and is the Messiah. What a great privilege John’s disciples had hearing Jesus tell them things he was doing and to realize that the words of the prophets were being fulfilled right in front of them.
They definitely saw these signs and understood the importance of them.
We need to pay attention and see the signs of Jesus.
I didn’t pay attention to the first couple of important signs that Jesus showed me; I just didn’t see them.
Sometimes we all can miss the obvious. Here is a good example.
The great Christian Jeff Foxworthy told a story on the Blue Collar comedy tour. Jeff said:
I’m having my house repainted and we have a piano in the corner and the painter says, “Is that y’all’s piano?” I said, “No, that’s our coffee table; it just has buck teeth. Here’s Your Sign.”
We all can miss even the most obvious of signs.
I was telling you I missed a couple. Jesus made sure I would not miss this one:
I going to quote from a Christian Bedouin’s Bible Study blog entry I wrote about prayer and my stay in a hospital after an operation:
I was staring at the monitor that had the squiggly lines running across the screen like some inch-worms late for a party. A sound came from the monitor and the lines stopped wiggling.
I realized that my heart had actually stopped, because I could not move my arm to see if the leads to the machine had come off. It was very strange, but I had a calm attitude with no fear and I thanked God and looked forward to the trip to see Him and Jesus.
A whole bunch of people decided to join my sendoff and rushed into the room, but God had other plans. I heard something about “…started by itself……very unusual…”.
I would have chuckled if I hadn’t fallen back to sleep. I knew God restarted my heart for the second time. He didn’t need the electrocution team to kick it.
We all can also see the signs of Jesus around us.
I shared my personal experience showing an act of the Lord so you could see a sign of Jesus.
You see someone giving some money of food to the poor – that is an act of Jesus! Remember Jesus sent all Christians out into the world to spread the Good News and also to care for people.
Do you have problems sometimes like Jeff Foxworthy’s painter? Do you see a coffee table with a lot of buck teeth instead?
The beauty of Jesus’ signs is that you can create them yourself with Jesus’ help: just follow Jesus’ teachings and leave a trail of signs for you and others to see.