Have you ever been in the situation when you knew what you should do but you found yourself asking for one more confirmation, one more “sign?” We all face this situation in our lives. We don’t want to act so we find reasons to stall.
So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” – John 2:18-20, ESV
When Jesus drove out the animals and shut down the merchants and money changers, he upset some folks. They immediately demanded His reasons for doing what He did. Jesus acted with authority. He knew what was right and carried it out. No one else had done so, not even those charged with leading God’s people in their worship and adherence to God Almighty.
Those who were in charge of the situation asked for Jesus’ credentials. They asked to know what gave Jesus the right to do what He did. I’m sure it wasn’t lost on them that He called the temple His Father’s house as He cleaned up things. They asked for a sign. I originally started to write, “They wanted,” but that’s not true. They didn’t want a sign. They didn’t actually want Jesus’ credentials. They wanted to avoid the situation entirely. So they stalled. Just like we may do.
Jesus responded as He often did to folks who weren’t interested in listening: in a cryptic way that contained the truth if you were willing to unpack it. He described rebuilding the temple if it were to be torn down. Though He was referring to His life, they naturally took His words as meaning the physical temple complex. As a result, Jesus’ words didn’t make sense to them. The reality of it was that the temple, though it had been years, wasn’t fully finished and Jesus said, “Three days?” Jesus gave them the easy out, a way to quickly dismiss Him. Surprisingly, though they were going to dismiss Him no matter what He did or said, Jesus still left them with a “teaching moment,” a clue, to hopefully lead them (and us) to faith. Again, Jesus acted proactively.
When we look at the two parties, we see One who did what was right without waiting for additional confirmation, more backing, or just one other person saying, “You’re right.” We also see another group who asked for more, even though they didn’t want to do what they knew was right. The second party delayed and avoided doing what they should have been doing by looking for that additional confirmation.
So what do we do when faced with a choice where we already know what we should be doing? We can respond like Jesus did and take action when it is time to do so. Alternatively, we can stall and delay, asking for something else to confirm the decision. However, delaying or avoiding what we know is right, especially when it involves God’s commands, has another name: sin. Let us instead be obedient and follow our Savior’s example. Let us do what is right and not put it off. That is the only proper way!