The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would show them a sign from heaven.…
Why did my multitudinous trees throw off their leaves last autumn? Was their throwing them off a sign that they were dying? They did not throw off one single leaf until they had a baby leaf wrapped up and lying along the branch. They threw off the garments of last year, and to-day they are putting on the garments of this year. So, with respect to them, change was growth, and preparation for growth. Why does the kernel of wheat die? Should a modern sceptic, after the seed had been in the ground for a few warm days, go through the field seeking for it, raking it up, and finding it rotten in his hand, he would say, "Don't you perceive that agriculture is all a myth? The thing is dead." But it must die if it would live. The reason of its decay is that its sustenance may be sucked up into the root and stem, and give new life to them; and when a single kernel seems to die, it is but a pang of birth for a hundred kernels that come into life. Thus there are changes going on in the Church. There are many things in it that must decay, in order that other things may grow. The spirit of Christianity is not changing, but its surroundings will more or less change or be thrown off, in order that it may unfold. Christianity is like a lighthouse over whose glass the keeper has permitted spiders to spin their webs, or on which insects have gathered until the glass is so dim that the light, though it shines brightly on the inside, is scarcely seen on the outside. These obstructions must be scoured off, the rubbish must be taken out of the way, in order that the light may shine out. There are thousands of things in the interpretations of religion that are obscurations.
(H. W. Beecher.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.