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Jesus speaks to you in His Word, saying,
So what signs and wonders have you seen from God? I’m willing to bet that you have never seen an entire universe created, or a sea split down the middle, or pillar of fire. I’m almost 100% certain that you have never seen a Buddha statue fall down, on its own, when brought into Church.
I’m also pretty sure that you have never been raised from the dead, been in a crowd fed by five loaves of bread, or been healed of paralysis.
Here’s the good news, though. Jesus says that you don’t have to see these things, even today. You get to walk by faith, not by sight. Better yet, anything that is too hard for you to understand like who to vote for, evolution, and microbiology; you get to place in that “faith” box. You don’t have to think about them. You don’t have to study or learn about them. You get to walk through life blindfolded, tempting God to keep the next step in front of you.
This is what you think. If its not done by God directly, then it is still God’s work somehow and that gives you the excuse to not know or learn about it. Or, even worse, you think God doesn’t act at all in the real world and so the Bible is just some mystical metaphor about being a good person. So, what’s the point in being in Church, as well?
On top of all that, Jesus seems to tell us the exact opposite of what we are hearing today when He says, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He could have said it more than just the two times that are recorded in Matthew, but the meaning is clear. The application, not so much.
Repent. The meaning is that we are the evil and adulterous generation who needs signs and wonders before we believe. We yearn for some powerful manifestation of God’s presence in our lives that we completely miss what God is actually doing and the true sign that He is working.
That same verse from St. Matthew gives us our clue, to what God is actually doing, as does what Jesus does to the Official’s son. Death is what is happening in both places; the death of the Official’s son and the death of Jonah. Both are going where their families and friends can not reach. Both are being swallowed up against their will and neither can do anything about it.
Thus, the real miracle of Jesus, that you are witnesses of, is the resurrection from the dead, revealed to you only in Holy Scriptures. It is not in personal revelations or private signs and wonders, tailored just for you and no one else. It is the universal message of universal atonement.
One Lord. One Faith. One baptism. One message and one experience for all. The Lord only interacts with you in the way He promises. There is no hope of you finding Him anywhere but there. You will not find Him in a house. You will not find Him in your neighbor. You will not find Him anywhere.
Unless. Unless there was such a time and a place where He said He would be. Unless there was a way, a means, by which He said He would use. I had asked before how many of you witnessed a sign from the Lord. The answer is none of you and all of you.
None of you have witnessed a sign like you want to witness one, but all of you are witnesses of the sign that the Lord has given to be witnessed. Does that make sense? If you witness a sign that you want to, it is only your own and not from God. But if God sets up a sign to be witnessed and you see it, then its all good.
The Lord has a son. He watched Him be born, grow up, and live on His own. This Son also became sick, but this sickness could not be healed and so the Lord had to watch His Son die. But, so that this death would not be in vain, the Lord set His Son up on a placard. This Son was set on a pole as a sign. A sign to show what kind of sickness leads to everlasting death, even the death of God, and that is sin.
The sickness the Son contracted was your sin and the sin of all people of all time, not His own. This sickness is incurable just in you, thus you can imagine the incredible burden every sin of all time placed on the Son. But the Son bore it. Each and every step of His life He carried it, slowly, surely to the cross.
On that post, you may read that the King of kings hangs there. The true King of the Jews dies there and He will not be back, once He leaves it. For the true King is Jesus. The true Son is God and man in one Christ.
So it is, that today, you don’t just hear of Jesus saving some son by some miracle. You hear of the true Son of God going down into death in order to catch the official’s son and throw him back to life. Jesus dies on the cross and is buried in order that, when you die and are buried, He would also catch and release you.
Thus, you pass from death to life simply by His Word. And if simply by His Word, then by anything attached to that Word as well. Not as a magical formula, but as a God-given promise. Because Jesus said so. “And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people.”
At this very moment, in this congregation, there is a person who is more qualified than anyone on earth, to give a testimony about witnessing this sign from Jesus. Unfortunately, she has yet to learn to talk. Yet, by her actions, dear Rebecca has freely given this testimony to all of you. She has touched, seen, and heard this sign coming together upon her. The water and the Word combined to create a sign of Faith that she shall not die, but live.
The true miracle, sign, and wonder of Jesus is that He doesn’t change. What He does to this official’s son, he does to all of you. When He promises rebirth and resurrection by water and the Word, it is accomplished in that way, and no other. You can get wet in the rain that falls from heaven, but you will not receive the same holy cleansing.
Baptism. One of the true signs, given to the Church, by Jesus. In it Jesus physically washes, clothes, and cares for the person, by faith alone. It is the sign that you have been forgiven, rescued from death, and given eternal salvation. It is the way Jesus promises salvation to Rebecca and to you, by faith alone, not by works.
Jesus makes His own signs. These are the signs we have, in the Church, and so these are the only signs we give and witness to, because these are the only signs in which Jesus works out His salvation in you and all people.