“If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” – Luke 16:31
People want a sign. Jesus included the verse of our reading as he told about a certain rich man and also a poor man who was named Lazarus. The rich man, consigned to hell because of his unbelief, wants Lazarus to be raised from the dead and sent back to his brothers. The rich man figures that if his brothers could see a resurrected and living Lazarus in the flesh, then his brothers would believe God’s Word and not end up in hell with him. But the reply the rich man receives is this: “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”
People still want a sign. They want to see mom miraculously healed of her cancer. They want to see Noah’s Ark brought down from the frozen snows of Mt. Ararat. If they could just see a sign, a remarkable miracle, an extraordinary proof, then they would believe in Jesus and his word of truth.
Of course, God has given us all kinds of signs. Many scientists, even agnostic and atheistic scientists, believe that the universe is exquisitely fine-tuned and designed for human life. Michael Turner, astrophysicist at the University of Chicago and Fermilab wrote: “The precision is as if one could throw a dart across the entire universe and hit a bull’s eye one millimeter in diameter on the other side.” (From the website of physicist Gerald Schroeder of MIT) Want a sign? The miracle of creation is a sign that God exists.
But such signs don’t bring people to faith. Think of all the signs and miracles Jesus gave the Jews while he was here on this earth. And what did they do to him? They crucified him!
The point is this: The Holy Spirit brings people to faith not through signs or miracles, but through the Word – God’s Word, the Bible, the Holy Scriptures. That’s why the answer to the rich man is so significant. “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets” (a term for the Old Testament Scriptures), they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” If the rich man’s brothers would not listen and believe the writings of Moses and the other prophets recorded in the Old Testament Scriptures, then they wouldn’t believe even if they came face to face with the resurrected Lazarus.
Don’t ignore God’s Word. Read and study it daily. There you will find the Holy Spirit working the miracle of faith in you. And there you will find all the signs and miracles you need. Think of the miracle of God’s faithful love for rebellious people that stretched over centuries. See how all the Messianic prophecies find their specific fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Wonder at the miracle of God’s love as he sends Christ into this world to live a perfect life in our place, and then to die that horrible death on Calvary for you and me. Rejoice in the sign of Jesus’ resurrection and victory over death. God’s grace and love for us is the grandest sign and the most wonderful miracle. It’s all recorded in the Bible, including the miracle of creation.
Don’t ignore God’s Word. Read and study it daily. Let the Holy Spirit create or strengthen your faith. Then you won’t need to look for any other signs and miracles.
Prayer: “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” Amen.