When certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees asked for a sign from Jesus, He answered, “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign” (Mt. 12:38-39). Now, there is nothing wrong with asking for proof from a man that says he is speaking from God. Jesus also said, “If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him” (John 10:37-38). Jesus did not expect people to believe without evidence. What Christ is saying is: if I do not do the miraculous works that correspond with my heavenly Father then do not believe me; however, if I do the miraculous signs, then believe me.
The reason in Matthew 12:38 that Jesus said this was an evil generation is because they continued looking for a sign that He had already given them and they did not believe. In Matthew 12:22, Jesus cast out a demon and the man who had formerly been possessed, causing muteness and blindness, was healed so that he spoke and saw. In reaction to this undeniable miracle, the Pharisees attributed the power to come from “Beelzebub, the prince of the devils” (v. 24). Jesus highlighted how ludicrous their accusation was that Satan would cast out Satan, and that rather this sign was proof that the kingdom of God has come upon you (vv. 25-28).
No matter what Jesus did these scribes and Pharisees were always asking for more proof. It is much like skeptics today who can look at the vast creation about us with all its intricate design and still maintain that God does not exist (Psalm 14:1; 19:1). They are always asking for more apparent evidence, but they have plenty already. The problem is not the evidence, but their hearts. They are not being honest with the sufficient evidence God has given.
These scribes and Pharisees are like religious people today who reject the plain teaching from the Bible. When you show them the Bible passage that contradicts what they are teaching or practicing they say, “Well, it only says that one time. I’m going to have to have more than that.” How many times does God have to say something in the Bible for it to be true and for us to be required to follow it? Where will this thinking stop? Will a person like this be satisfied if the Bible says something two times? What about three? People like this have seen more than enough proof; they just are not being honest with the evidence. If we are going to be honest we will have to take what the Bible says instead of forming special rules that exempt us each time it says something we do not like. The good old hymn poses this question: “How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in his excellent Word! What more can he say than to you he has said, to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?” God has said in His written word all we need to have acceptable faith and be pleasing to Him (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3). Those who dismiss His word by requiring more are not being honest with what He has given.
In Acts 9:36-37, Luke records: “Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did. And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber.” Dorcas is described as a woman full of doing good for others and expending her energy in acts of charity. There are women like this in the church who silently go about helping others. They are not up front, but they are helping. They are unsung heroes that further the work of the Lord by their labors.
Acts 9:37 says of Dorcas, “she was sick, and died.” We are not told the nature of the sickness nor what caused it. One wonders if she was like Epaphroditus who “because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life” (Philippians 2:30). Godly women who function as caretakers for others often take years off their own lives because of their toil and yet are focused on the health of others.
While a woman like Dorcas certainly embodied the selflessness of Christ to the extent that all who knew her were confident her death would lead to her eternal reward, they still grieved because she was no longer with them. All the widows stood weeping over her and showed the clothing she made (Acts 9:39). A loved one of ours who dies and is a faithful child of God provides us hope of a reunion but that prospect does not take away all sorrow (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14). “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15). But the departure of saints from this life still leaves those on earth who will miss their presence.
Through Peter the Lord raised up Dorcas and presented her alive to the saints and widows who had mourned her death (Acts 9:40-42). The result of this miracle is recorded in Acts 9:42, “And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.” Miracles were worked to produce belief (John 20:30-31). Today, there are many wonderful women like Dorcas who serve others. We are grieved when such individuals die. God has already worked sufficient miracles, including raising the dead, and recorded them in the Bible (Mark 16:16-20; Hebrews 2:3-4). But while miracles have had their time and served their purpose, the hope of a future resurrection is not out of the picture. Writing of the final coming of Christ and the resurrection of the righteous, Paul explained, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). If the Lord returns before our deaths we can be confident that those righteous individuals who have already died will be raised first and meet us and the Lord in the air. If we are living faithfully, we have this glorious expectation of Christ’s return that can occur at any moment.
We are thankful for Christian women like Dorcas. Those who have gone on to their reward we hope to meet again. It is up to us to follow their example as they followed Christ.
05.05.19 PM – Jerry Sturgill – The Church at Sardis
Scripture Reading – Gabe Scott: Revelation 3:1-6