Don’t demand a sign – Mark 8:11-13

As was often the case, Jesus found himself in another argument with some Pharisees.

11 The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” 13 And he left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side.

The interesting thing is that Jesus did in fact give a number of signs pointing to his being the Messiah.  The Gospel of John is perhaps the clearest on this point.

The first was his changing the water into wine, after which John 2:11 says, “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.”

After healing an official’s son, John 4:54 informs us, “This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.”  Later we read, “Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him,” in John 12:37.

And of course, near the end of his Gospel (John 20:30-31) John writes, Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

The best way to understand Christ’s point in refusing the Pharisees the sign that they seek may simply be that he’ll be the one to decide what sign(s) he is willing to perform.  Their job and ours is merely to accept the signs that he gives. His ultimate sign was his resurrection, but of course they didn’t accept that one either.  We must do so if we are truly to be his followers.

When we deal with God, we need to maintain a healthy attitude of submission.  Making demands on him reverses the relationship.  He may do what we ask if he so chooses, but he is not obligated.  On the other hand we need to always be at his service.  If he makes a demand on us, it is only right.  The only right response is to do what he says.  This becomes easier the more we accept the fact that he knows and wants what is best for us and teaches us through this process.

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