The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, asking him for a sign from heaven, to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation.” And he left them, and getting into the boat again, he went across to the other side. (Mark 8:11-13 NRSV)
Jesus “sighed deeply in his spirit.” Doesn’t this image of Jesus touch your soul? One can envision Jesus sighing, perhaps shaking his head while holding his fingers to his temple, showing his exasperation when he is asked once AGAIN to prove himself to the Pharisees. Does Jesus sigh deeply with us, too?
God is always working, the Spirit is always moving, but I often deem these God-moments as coincidences. A voice awakens me from sleep and I attribute it to a dream. God shows me a sign, but since it wasn’t the one I specifically asked God to show me, I discount it. Someone says, “God told me…” and my eyebrows raise with doubt. The lessons of nature provide insight for my daily living, but I pay no attention. A friend says a word I need to hear, and I disregard it. I know there are signs all around me. I just discount, ignore or miss them completely.
And then Jesus asks, “Why does this generation seek a sign?” His words speak to me of true faith. I may miss out on many signs, but even if signs were never sent, God is still loving, still actively working in our lives. Jesus is still serving as our teacher, mentor, model for living, and gift of love from God. The Spirit is still guiding, inspiring, and giving us wisdom. The more we learn to trust all of these, the less we will need signs.
Erica Jong has said, “Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.” I wonder if we seek signs especially in times of our self-doubt. We may hear a calling from God but we doubt our ability, and so we ask for a sign. We may feel nudged to take action but we feel uncomfortable, and so we ask for a sign. We know in our hearts that we are meant to follow Christ, but he asks much from us, and so we ask for a sign. Instead of trusting in God’s provision, in Jesus’ example, and in the Spirit’s wisdom, we believe we are inadequate- and so we ask for a sign.
We have more than enough, don’t we? We have the Word of God with us- in the Bible, in the life of Jesus, and in all creation. We have the Spirit of God in us. We have experiences of God’s love revealed in our own lives. We have everything we need- signs or no signs.
Trusting in God’s loving guidance and provision for every moment of our lives, may we stop seeking signs and begin serving as signs of God’s presence from heaven, here among us now.
Are you talking to ME?
Today Jesus is asking, “Why does this generation ask for a sign?”
Do you have a sign- an experience of God- that you might share with someone today? Do you have a tendency to doubt a word or nudge from the Spirit? In what situations, if any, do you seek signs? In what ways do you doubt yourself? In what ways do you doubt God? Are you being invited to deepen in faith and trust today? How might you become a visible sign of the presence of Christ for others?