Bible Reading Enhances Any Day (BREAD)
2/10/19 Daily Bible Reading: Exodus 31-32, Mark 8
Mark 8:11-12 (NKJV) Then the Pharisees came out and began to dispute with Him, seeking from Him a sign from heaven, testing Him. 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.”
8:11. The religious authorities (cf. 3:22-30; 7:1-5) came and began to question (syzētein, “to dispute, debate”) Him. They wished to test (from peirazō; cf. 1:13; 10:2; 12:15) Him, to get Him to prove the source of His authority (cf. 3:22-30; 11:30; Deut. 13:2-5; 18:18-22). They were seeking (from zēteō; cf. Mark 11:18; 12:12; 14:1, 11, 55) from Him a sign from heaven, one with divine authorization. In the Old Testament a “sign” was not so much a demonstration of power as an evidence that an utterance or action was authentic and trustworthy (cf. TDNT, s.v. “sēmeion,” 7:210-6, 234-6). The Pharisees did not demand a spectacular miracle, but that Jesus give unmistakable proof that He and His mission were authorized by God. They believed quite the opposite (cf. 3:22).
8:12. Jesus sighed deeply (cf. 7:34) and asked a rhetorical question that reflected His distress at their obstinate unbelief. The words this generation denoted the nation of Israel represented by those religious leaders (cf. 8:38; 9:19; 13:30). They continually rejected God’s gracious dealings with them (cf. Deut. 32:5-20; Ps. 95:10). Miraculous is not in the Greek text.
With a solemn introductory formula (I tell you the truth; cf. Mark 3:28) and a Hebrew idiom of strong denial (cf. Ps. 95:11; Heb. 3:11; 4:3, 5), Jesus rejected their demand: No sign will be given to “this generation.” Matthew cited the only exception, “the sign of Jonah” (Matt. 16:4), that is, Jesus’ resurrection (cf. Matt. 12:39-40).
In Mark, there is a distinction between a miracle (dynamis) and a sign (sēmeion). The former evidences God’s presence and power in Jesus. An appeal for a miracle can be a legitimate expression of one’s faith (e.g., Mark 5:23; 7:26, 32). But such an appeal is illegitimate if it arises out of unbelief, as was true of the Pharisees.
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