11 The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. 12 He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.” 13 Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side.
(Mark 8:11-13 NIV)
Jesus had just finished teaching a crowd of 4,000 in the wilderness for three straight days. Jesus concluded the event by feeding the crowd, then sending them back home.
As soon as He dismissed the crowd and sent them on their way, Jesus quickly gathered up His disciples, got in a boat, and cross the Sea of Galilee once more, headed to Dalmanutha.
As we pick up the story today, Jesus and His disciples have landed at their destination. The Pharisees hear that Jesus is in town; they gather together to confront Jesus about His ministry.
In verse 11, Mark tells us that the Pharisees demanded a supernatural sign from Jesus. If you’ll remember back to chapter 3 (3:22-30, to be precise), the Pharisees had accused Jesus of being demon-possessed and performing His miracles using black magic (satanic power, not God’s power). Jesus had, of course, refuted their arguments and provided convincing evidence that His power was from God alone.
The Pharisee’s request for a sign demonstrated their unbelief. They were not interested in authenticating Jesus’ ministry; rather, they sought to discredit Him.
Jesus responded with a deep sigh, then told them no sign would be given. Jesus saw the trap and refused to play into it. Jesus’ emotional response was not of judgment toward the Pharisees, but rather, of a heartfelt burden for His people.
So what did Jesus do? He walked away, gathered His disciples, got back in the boat, and went back across the lake.
As Thomas Heywood said, quoting Jeremiah 5:21, “There are none so blind as those who will not see. The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what they already know”.
God has given us signs in the everyday events, all around us. Will we see His handiwork, or will we ignore His signs that are hidden in plain sight?
Elizabeth Barrett Browning expressed her thoughts on the subject like this:
“Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries…”
(From From ‘Aurora Leigh’, By Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861))
As you look at the world around you today, may your worship time be rich.