The Pharisees came out and began to argue with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, to test Him. Sighing deeply in His spirit, He said, “Why does this generation seek for a sign? Truly I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” Leaving them, He again embarked and went away to the other side. And they had forgotten to take bread, and did not have more than one loaf in the boat with them. And He was giving orders to them, saying, “Watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” They began to discuss with one another the fact that they had no bread. And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart? Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember, when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces you picked up?” They said to Him, “Twelve.” “When I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of broken pieces did you pick up?” And they said to Him, “Seven.” And He was saying to them, “Do you not yet understand?” Mark 8:11-21

Today’s thoughts from today’s verses:

If you or I were Jesus at the time when today’s passage took place, we would probably be severely discouraged and depressed. No one seems to get it. Jesus had just come from feeding a crowd of 4,000 miraculously. He had compassion on them because of their physical hunger but he probably didn’t think there was much spiritual hunger going on. We saw previously in the Gospel of John that after the miraculous feeding of the crowd of 5,000, that very same crowd sought Jesus out the following day. Here is what Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” I suspect that not much was different with the crowd of 4,000 and that Jesus came away from the second loaves and fish miracle fully aware that they didn’t get it. 

On the heels of his experience with yet another crowd, today’s passage brings Jesus face to face with the Pharisees. The Pharisees not only don’t get, they are openly opposed to Jesus. They argued with Jesus and tested him by asking for a sign from heaven. We are told that Jesus sighed deeply in his spirit. The Gospel of Matthew records Jesus’ response to the Pharisees asking for a sign and adds a little more. “Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, ‘Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.’ But He answered and said to them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.’” Yes, Jesus sighed deeply in his spirit, not just because of the opposition of Pharisees, but because he knew the outcome of their resistance: three days and nights in a borrowed tomb after being brutally executed on a Roman cross.

But there is even more that contributes to this troubling time for Jesus. His own disciples still don’t get it. His hopes for comprehension by his disciples in regard to who he is and everything he is all about are not exactly realized through the two loaves and fishes miracles. Read again the exchange between Jesus and his disciples in today’s passage and seek to enter into how alone and discouraged Jesus must have felt. The crowds and the Pharisees are one thing, but his own disciples, that is another. Entering into what Jesus felt here can leave us feeling rather bummed out. Remember, our focus this week is on comprehending the Jesus we follow. The sign of Jonah does make a huge difference because after the death and burial of Jesus Christ comes the resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit. Here we are today, sometimes slow to comprehend, but full beneficiaries of the risen Christ living within us through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Today’s prayer response from today’s thoughts:

Lord, I am moved by what you went through as you went about doing good among people who were so slow to respond to you and all you longed to bestow on them. I am so sorry for being so slow to comprehend. Awaken me to the fullness of who are and all you long to bring about in my relationship with you. Again, thank you for your patience and persistence. I know you will help me to comprehend and respond to you more fully than ever before. Amen!