Recently, I was conducting a wedding rehearsal in a very timeworn restaurant where I noticed a sign on the staircase that read, “Watch your step. This is an old building.”
I didn’t think much of that until I climbed the steps, looked around, and saw another sign. It was on a pedestal that had a third sign that emphatically said, “Please don’t remove!”
The second sign to which I’m referring said, “Please Don’t Step Here!” (Emphasis theirs…) We were on the second floor, so (quite naturally) it made me a tad nervous. I became rather curious as to why the pedestal should not be moved and the spot not stepped upon, but frankly, I was afraid to ask. Sometimes it’s better not to know.
No One Fell Through the Floor
The rehearsal went okay, and no one fell through the floor. I don’t mind telling you, however, that when I had the entire wedding party on one spot, I was eager to get everything over with.
I’m pretty sure I’m going to have recurring nightmares about moving the pedestal and having all the folks stand on the forbidden spot. The evilest thoughts in my mind seem to find their way into my dreams—probably a sign in itself.
Signs can be a big deal. Sometimes they are to be unequivocally obeyed. At other times, they are to be explored. They should probably never be totally ignored. I chose not to ignore nor explore the “Please Don’t Step Here” sign for what I hope are obvious reasons. To obey seemed like the logical choice in that situation.
There was an occasion on which Jesus became annoyed with the Pharisees because they were not paying attention to the signs. He chided them because they seemed to be good at reading the weather portents—red skies at night, overcast skies in the morning—but they couldn’t read the signals he was sending them. He told them they would be given no more signs except for the “sign of Jonah.” Then he left them. At that point, they probably had no clue as to what he was referring.
The Sign of Jonah
Our best guess is that Jesus was pointing ahead to his resurrection. Like Jonah who was rescued from the belly of the fish in three days, so too, Jesus would be resurrected on the third day. I’m sure he understood that these Pharisees would not recognize that as a sign of his Messianic role either. Blinded eyes are blinded eyes. Unless they are miraculously opened, they will not see.
Jesus performed all kinds of miracles in the presence of the Pharisees—and everyone else for that matter. He healed physical maladies, cast out demons, and even raised some people from the dead. He wasn’t about to appease these doctors of hypocrisy with a special “magic trick” that they would ultimately explain away. He knew it would be futile, not to mention tempting God.
We need to pay special attention to his signs and wonders. In the meantime, “Please Don’t Step Here!”
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]