Thursday, February 4, 2016

Jesus left the Unbelievers Behind: Performing Miracle is Not the Way to Him (Mark 8:9-13)

After Jesus had sent [the crowd] away, he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha. The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. He sighted deeply and said, ‘Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.’ Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side
(Mark 8:9-13, NIV).

Strange as it may seem, there were people in Jesus’ day – people who actually saw Him – who wanted more proof that He was the Son of God He claimed to be. Following Jesus’ miracle of feeding the four thousand as recorded in Mark 8:1-9, a group of Pharisees approached Him asking for “a sign from heaven” proving His deity. But Jesus knew that their request for sign was not to prove Him to be the Messiah or Christ, but rather “to test” or “to argue” with Him. They were still trying to find a flaw in Him in order to “kill Jesus” (Mark 3:6). The Pharisees were determined to ruin the ministry of Jesus. They are more eager to disapprove His claims than to be convinced. Perhaps, they thought that the Messiah’s coming was to be announced by some strange signs in the sky.

This text reminds me of how a friendly Ustaz tried to prove to me that Jesus is not the Son of God by pointing to me few verses in the Bible out of contexts. So I showed to him what; 1) Mark, the writer of the Gospel told us about who Jesus is, “the Messiah, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1); 2) John the Baptist said Jesus “the one who more powerful than I… he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (1:7-8); 3) The Holy Spirit pointed to Jesus when “the Spirit descending on him like a dove” (1:10); 4) God the Father proclaimed about Jesus from heaven, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (1:11); 5) The evil spirits feared Him and said, “I know who you are – the Holy One of God!” (1:24); 6) A paralyzed man was healed both physically and spiritually because Jesus said “Son, your sins are forgiven” (2:5); 7) Jesus Himself claimed to be God when He said, “The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath” (2:28); 8) Again, the evil spirits cried out to Jesus, “You are the Son of God” (3:11); 9) The wind and the waves – nature – obeyed Jesus when He said, “Quiet! Be still!” (4:38); 10) One more time, the evil spirits begged Jesus and knees in front of Him, “Jesus, Son of the Most High God” (5:7); 11) Jairus’ daughter was dead, but when Jesus said “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” (5:41), she resurrected to life!; 12) The miracle of feeding the five thousand (Mark 6) and four thousand (Mark 8), Jesus multiplied and created bread and fish out of nothing like God; and many more. Only from chapter 1 to chapter 8 there are 12 proofs of Jesus’ deity! “Ustaz,” I said, “Let me pay for the food.” He was so kind, he paid it in advance.

Jesus “sighted deeply” when He heard the sarcastic remarks of the Pharisees. One commentator writes, “No matter what Jesus might do, they would not accept it as sufficient evidence because they did not want to believe.” Not because there were not enough proofs (I only pointed 12 proofs here) or because the proofs were unclear, but people – the unbelievers – don’t want to believe. They choose to reject Jesus. If you also a not-yet-believer, pray for the Holy Spirit to open your heart and convince you of the reality of the divinity of Jesus, the Son of God. Don’t harden your heart! Don’t be like Voltaire who said, “Even if a miracle should be wrought in the open market place before a thousand sober witnesses, I would rather mistrust my senses than admit a miracle.” To this kind of people, Jesus simply replied, “Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.”

I like how Jesus responded. He simply won’t entertain the unbelievers (on the other hand, Jesus welcome even encourage truth-seekers who really want to know the truth), say “no” and “then he left them.” Cool! Jesus was not coming to earth to convince people to come to him by performing miracles; He can do much greater miracles! He came to invite people to come to Him in faith, and as a response to their faith, He performed great miracles. Do you doubt Jesus of the Bible because you haven’t seen a miracle? Do you require “a sign from heaven” to prove Himself to you personally before you believe? I believe in miracle. But the most accessible “miracles” of God are here for us to examine: the recorded miracles in the Old and New Testaments, the two thousand years of church history, and the witness of thousands upon thousands of true Christians around the world today (around you and from the Internet world). Don’t harden your heart! This is what Jesus said after His resurrection: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). Amen.


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