“An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” Matthew 12:39 (NRSV)
When I talk to my eighteen-year-old son about the claims of Jesus Christ on his life, he asks for proof. That does not surprise me. When I was a young man, I had a similar concern. I wanted evidence that Jesus would do for me what the Bible promised He would do. When at the age of twenty-four, a chemical imbalance established a firm grip on my life, this attitude of wanting concrete proof of Christ’s deity was accentuated.
The religious leaders of Jesus’ time provoked the response mentioned above from Him. The “sign of the prophet Jonah” refers to the Old Testament event when Jonah spent three days and nights in the belly of a large fish. Jesus was making a comparison with His own death on a cross and the three-day burial in a tomb. It is not coincidental that the sign of His deity and power was His death and subsequent resurrection. The reality of such a dramatic event, and certainly if one could witness it in person, would be sufficient proof to convince the most skeptical one among us.
Mental illness, particularly one such as I have, is living death. I remember that Jesus told us to take up our crosses and follow Him. Our resurrection is in the future. What we can and should do now is to “put to death” every vestige of a life lived solely for one’s own selfish purposes. Jesus’ death benefits us. Our “death” should result in the “resurrection” of a life of love and service.
A person with a mental illness, or chemical imbalance, is usually, by reason of the magnitude of the pain he suffers, focused on his own condition. His salvation comes from reaching out to others and being a channel of the love of Christ to those around him.
You may pray this with me: “Dear Jesus, thank You for dying on the cross so that I might have new life. I ask You to live through me so that I might be a pattern for others in pian to follow. Realizing that I too have been skeptical, help me to be patient with those who are in doubt as to Your deity. Amen.