We have begun a new series of sermons at our church entitled "Life Apps". The gist of the entire series is the concept of taking what we know and applying it to our lives. Application being the basis of all change - without application, there is no advantage to knowledge. It is only when knowledge is applied that we can say we are truly developing "wisdom". As we explore our verses today, I think this may be what Jesus was trying to tell these religious leaders.
38Later a few religion scholars and Pharisees got on him. "Teacher, we want to see your credentials. Give us some hard evidence that God is in this. How about a miracle?" 39-40Jesus said, "You're looking for proof, but you're looking for the wrong kind. All you want is something to titillate your curiosity, satisfy your lust for miracles. (Matthew 12:38-40 The Message)
Here, day after day, Jesus has been healing the sick, setting the demon-possessed free from their torturous existence, and teaching the truths of the Word. Still, after all these "signs and wonders", the religion scholars "get on" Jesus - looking for his "credentials"! If I had been there, my response would have been something like, "Wake up dudes!"
They came with the demand for "hard evidence". If opening the eyes of the blind from birth, or unraveling the shriveled hand of a man born with a birth defect is not "hard evidence", I am not exactly sure what they were looking for! They ask for a miracle! What on earth had they been seeing over these past several weeks? In fact, they had seen more miracles in one day than most of us see in a lifetime and they are still looking for "hard evidence"!
Jesus hits it on the head - all they wanted was something to "titillate" their curiosity. It is amazing to me how many times we fall into this same trap. We wander off to church each Sunday, go to our small groups one night a week, attend a revival meeting, or go off to a retreat center, all in search of something to "titillate" our senses. What we miss in our "wandering" is the touch God designed for our spirit, not our senses!
Did you know the root of the word "titillate" is "tickle"? We are often looking for God to "tickle" our fancy - give us just a little sense of his presence, assurance, or direction. We aren't really looking for life change - we want "sensation". God gave us the functional capacity to be curious - he also gave us the spiritual capacity to be in sync with his movement. When our focus is only on the "feeling" of being "tickled" by God's grace, we often miss the evidence of his grace right in the midst of our most desperate need for it!
Jesus encountered this face-on. He did not back down. He called it what it was - sensational seeking! Whenever we want the "sensation" of God's presence apart from the change his presence desires to bring, we miss it! Those who received their miracles came expectantly - not looking for the sensation of healing, but for the ACTUAL healing! This is what God honors - expectant faith, hungering hope.
I wonder how many times we have missed what we so desperately needed for our deliverance from some life struggle simply because we came to Jesus hoping he'd tickle our fancies with some "feelings" of deliverance? Over the years, I have come to realize Jesus does more in one moment of yielded obedience than he ever does in the hours I have spent in church! Yep, church attendance is important, but if we were honest, it is in the quiet of alone time with him where we are most frequently touched by his grace! Maybe we need to open our eyes afresh to the "hard evidence" of obedience in our lives - this seems to be the "evidence" which produces change!