By Sara Foss.
Patrick Henry College
Pastor David Janney of Purcellville Baptist Church speaking to PHC students in Wednesday's chapel message
As a child, Janney had been taught that asking God for a sign was wicked and adulterous, as was demonstrated from Matthew 16. Yet Gideon, David, Noah and Moses all received signs from God. In fact, Isaiah 7 relates that when God instructed King Ahaz to ask for a sign, and Ahaz replied that he would not test God, God was far from pleased.
“When God tells you to ask for a sign, what had you better do?” Janney asked. “You’d better ask.”
The distinction, Janney explained, lies in asking, rather than demanding.
“Unbelievers ask for a sign not to believe,” Janney said, reminding his listeners that Matthew 16 relates to Pharisees looking for a way to discredit Jesus.
“It’s ok, as a child, to say, ‘God, I need some help.’ To say, ‘Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.’”
Janney then pulled further instructions from John 2 on following the signs God provides. First, we are to wait on His hour. In John, that did not come until chapter 17 in the upper room, when Jesus finally said, “Father, the hour has come.”
Second, in the words of Mary, “Whatever he says to you, do it,” even if it makes absolutely no sense and it is not really safe, as in the instance of the servants at the wedding feast, or in Janney’s own life, trusting God with his wife’s pregnancy after years of disappointment and a life-threatening miscarriage.
“It’s easy to whisper in your heart, ‘Sun, stand still,’” Janney said, rather than pray aloud and boldly, yet that is what we are instructed to do, even if the prayers go unanswered.
Finally, Janney demonstrated the symbolism of Jesus’ first miracle by drawing a parallel between the new wine and Jesus himself.
“Jesus is the new wine, drawn out and presented to His master,” Janney said. Though none understood at the time, Jesus’ first miracle, or sign, was a sign of things to come.