How Much More Proof Do You Need?
Matthew 16:1-4; Mark 8:10-13
“When he heard this, he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, ‘Why do these people keep demanding a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, I will not give this generation any such sign.’” – Mark 8:12 NLT
Rarely did the Pharisees and Sadducees ever agree on anything. They were both religious parties of the Jews, but they disagreed about a number of things and disliked one another very much. But they shared a common enemy: Jesus. And on this occasion they joined forces in order to trick and trap Jesus. Their life ambition was to eliminate Jesus as a threat to their way of doing things. His arrival on the scene had disrupted their way of life. He had stirred things up with His message about the kingdom and his constant use of miracles. The people were flocking to Him in droves and they didn’t like sharing the spotlight with anyone. And Jesus hadn’t done Himself any favors with the way in which He talked about these men. He was unrelenting in His criticism of them, exposing them as hypocrites, charlatans, and unworthy of trust or admiration.
But the one thing that meant more to these men than anything else was the concept of authority. In their religious world, you had to have authority to say or do anything. And authority was passed down from one influential rabbi to another. They put high stock in tradition and deemed it necessary for anyone who wanted to make a statement about anything, to have received authority to do so from someone other than themselves. As far as they were concerned, Jesus had no authority. He had sat under no one’s leadership or tutelage. He had not apprenticed with any known rabbi or religious expert. Much of what He was saying and teaching was heresy to them because it was new information. He was teaching things they had never heard before. And He had no authority to do so. That’s why you see them constantly confronting Jesus about where He got His authority to do what He did. And that’s what was driving them on this day. Mark tells us that when they arrived, they “started to argue with him. Testing him, they demanded that he show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove his authority” (Mark 8:11 NLT).
It is interesting to note that Jesus had already claimed to be the Messiah. He also claimed to have been sent by God, His own Father. He had healed the sick, cast out demons and raised the dead. But that was not enough proof for these men. They had already attributed Jesus’ powers to Satan, not God. They considered Him a blasphemer for claiming to be the Son of God. The healings he performed were not enough for them. They wanted more. They wanted a sign from heaven. More than likely, they were looking for signs like Moses had given the Israelites in Egypt. They probably wanted to see Jesus bring down fire and brimstone on the Romans. They would have loved to have seen Him strike dead all the firstborn males in all the Roman households. They wanted a sign from heaven – from God Himself. Then that would prove Jesus’ authority. But they really never expected Him to be able to pull off such a feat. Because they didn’t believe He was who He said He was. Honestly, Jesus had already done more than enough to prove who He was and to demonstrate His authority. And He wasn’t going to do anything more. He would not give them the kind of sign they were looking for because that is not why He came. He did not come to set them free from Roman rule. He came to set men free from slavery to sin. And for that to happen, Jesus had to die. And the amazing thing is that even after Jesus had died and was miraculously raised back to life by the power of God, these very same men would deny the veracity of the disciples’ claim that Jesus was alive. They would go out of their way to disprove it and discredit the disciples.
Jesus refused to give them the kind of sign they were looking for. And the one sign that should have proven to them once and for all that He was the Son of God – His resurrection – they would eventually choose to ignore and deny. To their own detriment. Refusing to recognize Jesus’ authority is a dangerous thing. Denying His God-given right to rule and reign in the lives of men is an unhealthy game to play. But like the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus’ day, there are thousands upon thousands of people doing just that today. They refuse to acknowledge Jesus’ authority over their lives. They can’t bring themselves to believe that Jesus has authority over sin and death. They struggle believing that Jesus alone has the authority to set them free slavery to sin. “So he got back into the boat and left them, and he crossed to the other side of the lake” (Mark 8:13 NLT).
Father, it is so hard to understand why so many still reject Jesus’ authority over their lives today. But I know it happens. Their hardened hearts blind them to the reality of who He is. They stubbornly refuse to acknowledge His God-given authority and His power over sin and death. And as a result, they remain in their sins, unforgiven and unrepentant. Open their eyes Father. Help them to see. Give those of us who know Your Son the courage to speak openly and honestly about what we know and what we have seen. But only You can open the eyes of men and soften their hearts to see the truth. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men