The Pharisees Seek a Sign
11 Then the Pharisees came out and began to dispute with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, testing Him. 12 But He sighed deeply in His spirit, and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Assuredly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation.”
A sign seemed a small thing to ask, for Jesus was unlike other preachers, teachers, rabbis and prophets of His time: He had no equal. Indeed, how could He?
He astonished the crowds with His teaching, He was confident in His authority to perform miracles, He had a retinue of unlearned yet passionate men, and a women’s ministry that was unheard of in His time.
He spoke to Samaritans, forgave the sins of the faithless, and called out the religious leaders for their hypocrisy, challenging their power over the people and their control of political events in Israel.
All the while He knew that eventually He would have to die at their hands in order to save them all.
They questioned His authority relentlessly, tried to trap Him repeatedly, and he constantly left them in a state of embarrassed confusion and wrath that exposed their corrupt hearts.
They called Him out as a blasphemous youth and rebellious upstart, and sought to stone him more than once.
He could’ve ended it with a sign.
Why not gather them all together on the mountain, where there could be no doubt, in full view of Heaven and earth, before all the people? Why not give them a sign that You are truly sent from the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? They’d believe You then, Jesus. They’d leave You alone then.
Jesus knew what was in a man, and refused them. He was not a street magician performing to please crowds. If they were jealous and hated Him for the ministry He was doing without a sign, how much more jealous and hateful would they be if they saw the Father seal Him before their eyes as the Messiah?
The virgin birth they knew about was not enough.
The miracles He performed in front of them were not enough.
He took what they knew and told them it all pointed to Himself, and it was not enough.
Their stubborn faithlessness wearied Him so, he sighed deep in His own spirit.
How many of us, in our moments of unbelief, can make that claim?
Is He enough for us, O we of little faith? Do we truly believe, professing with lips and no honor in our hearts? Do we sacrifice instead of obey? Do we pray on the night’s watch? Do we shout what He’s whispered? Do we forgive as He did, and love as He loves?
What are the signs?
Where are the signs?
Therefore I pray:
I grow weary of doing good in an ungrateful world. I grow fearful of what people will think and say if I profess You, though I don’t deny You in my heart. I have no boldness, and am quiet when I should shout. I withdraw from the kinds of crowds You went into.
I don’t believe You will give me what to say when I open my mouth to preach the Gospel.
I feel as though I have no authority at all to speak of You as I act on my own sinful desires.
And I ask for signs: wet fleece, wet grass, a star in the heavens, a prophetic word, a verse in the Word, a reversal of bad fortune…
If I just had those, Lord, I’d be so much more encouraged to speak of Your goodness, Your mercy, Your grace, and yes, Your judgment.
And You say to me, “No sign shall be given.”
Then increase my faith to continue. Help my unbelief. Feed this little dog the scraps from Your table. Let me take a drink from the well of Living Water. Let me eat of the Bread of the Life. Let me set stones on the path, and find wells in the desert. Let me see Your glory fill the temple of my heart, for even King David said, “I am poor and needy.”
I would not have my spirit fail, nor be broken.
If you’re trusting me with Your silence, Lord, then I trust Your hand works where I can’t see, preparing my place, and guiding me along the path.
I thank You, King Jesus, for all that You’ve done, and all that You will do to complete my story as the Author and Finisher of the work You started. Write Your sign on my life, Lord, and set me on a hill so that men will see, and glorify G-d.