Reading the signs, Matthew 16vv2-3

Sometimes we don’t see the signs, no matter how clear they are to other people. Distraction, tiredness or misplaced confidence might explain the time I drove down a one-way street the wrong way (Acton), or the occasion I walked into the ladies toilets by mistake (Croydon).

The first mistake was embarrassing because a policeman noticed and pulled me over, and the second mistake was embarrassing because the women in the toilet were shocked – as was another man who had followed me into the toilet assuming I knew what I was doing!

The sign in the picture to the right meant nothing to me – but it would have spoken loud and clear to people of previous centuries. The shield (on a wall of Leeds castle) was the property of a medieval queen. She outlived her husband, and therefore her shield was in the shape of a lozenge – indicating to all that she was a widow.

I am not sure of the usefulness of this information, but at least it was clear. To the people of the day. But to me and I assume most of us in the 21st century we need a card stuck to the wall underneath explaining its significance.

Our ignorance regarding such information is understandable and unremarkable, but this is not always the case with other topics. What about the religious leaders of Jesus’ time? They didn’t read the signs right. Even though they saw the miracles, they still asked for signs. The response of Jesus was, ““When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.” (Matthew 16:2–3 NIV11)

Perhaps we shouldn’t be too hard on the Pharisees and Sadducees. After all, Jesus was not the Messiah they were expecting. And perhaps that’s the problem. We fail to see things for what they are because we are expecting something else.

What might be the relevance of all this for a Christian today? My question would be, “When you read the Bible what are you expecting to find?” If we are looking for reassurance, guilt, grace, faith, conviction, compassion, comfort, or whatever – we will find it. But is that at the heart of Bible study? Isn’t it vital to remember that we study the Bible to find God? To find out more about Him? To get to know Him better? If we approach the Bible with an open mind we will find Him. And if we find Him, we will find all we need.

What helps you to keep your spiritual eyes open? Please leave a comment on this blog to help us all make sure we don’t miss the signs.

I learned my lesson and have never walked into the ladies toilets again. I hope the man who followed me learned to look for himself and not blindly follow.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.