As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom; and now something greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and now something greater than Jonah is here.
A few years ago I conducted an online retreat on being Perpetually in the Presence of God. It was inspired by a 17th century monk who went by the name of Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection. Among the many profound things that he says is this little jewel: Everything is possible for one who believes, still more for one who hopes, even more for one who loves, and most of all for one who practices and perseveres in these three virtues. Faith. Hope. Love.
Paul said something similar in his letter to the Corinthians. “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). I want us to talk about faith, because this is the subject of today’s reading. We all need faith. Hebrews 11:6 says that “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Now most of us believe that he exists. But that belief demands a proper response that can come only with a proper understanding of who he is. So, allow me to ask you a few questions: Do you believe he is a great God? Yes? Good. Do you believe he is a powerful God? Yes again? Good. Do you believe he is a good God? That he is a God without malice or any trace of evil in him? Yes? Okay, a final question: Do you believe that he loves you? Yes, for the fourth time.
Good, so now tell me this. If something “bad” happens in our lives, what is our reaction? Anxiety? Worry? Fear? Depression? Why? If you really believe that God is powerful and that he is great, there is nothing that can happen without his knowledge. And if you really believe that God is good, he will have a good reason for whatever he permits to happen. Right? So why don’t we trust him?
See, this is what faith is really about. That we not only profess these things we just professed, but actually believe them. We constantly look for signs, but what greater sign that Jesus dying on the cross and rising again on the third day. If we believe that, that is it - we shouldn’t need anything more. Please think about this deeply today because in a proper understanding lies great freedom.
And we are born to be free.