“The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven” (Matthew 16:1).

The Pharisees and Sadducees had looked upon the whole demonstration of evidence applied by Jesus Christ in the course of His ministry and were exactly in the same condition of unbelief and disguised and avowed hostility as before. No impression had been made upon them of a vital kind. They had been dazed and stunned by a succession of miracles, but had not been convinced. Admitting that great and wonderful cures had been performed, they were piously anxious that now some sign should be shown to them from heaven. A token from heaven would be exactly what their pious and noble minds required. Yes, they had seen wonderful deeds, but these were material and sensational, adapted to the general populous; they desired a sign from heaven. They considered themselves devout, sweet-souled godly men, who were alive on the heavenly side of their nature and who could accept any hint or claim that came from the sky.

This is a common corruption. We want sermons of another kind when the devil is twisting his fingers further and further around us. We enjoy the sermons that are delivered but would rather hear a sermon from heaven. We do not deny the truth of what we hear, but we desire something more spiritual. We do not doubt the good of what has been done in the past, but we desire to see good of another kind. This is the stock temptation of the old serpent. He says, “What you have is all very good; wonderful doctrine has been propounded, but you should ask for something new, different, better.” Old serpent, cunning—and yet his cunning ought now to be so transparent that we should mock it and reject it with bitter scorn. Beware of wrapping a religious cloak around you and seeking a sign from heaven.

Adapted from In His Presence