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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood


No Sign

The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it.” Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side. (Mark 8:11-13, NIV)

The roles on Judgment Day will be reversed. Jesus is the One who will ask the questions then.

But, in the here and now, the religious leaders are upset with Him. It’s not the first time. They took exception to His ...

• Forgiving the sins of the paralytic (2:5-7).

• Eating with tax collectors and sinners (2:15,16).

• Permitting the disciples to pluck grain on the Sabbath (2:23,24).

• Healing the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath (3:1-5).

• Permitting the disciples to eat with unwashed hands (7:1-8).

They also rejected Him as coming from God — saying He was possessed of the devil (3:22-30). At one point they even joined their archenemy rivals, the Herodians, and plotted to kill Jesus (3:6).

In this passage from Mark 8, the Pharisees try to put Jesus on the spot by demanding He provide “a sign from heaven.” From their point of view, the healings, exorcisms, teachings and miraculous feedings were insufficient evidence of His divine identity.

Jesus refused. He never performed His miracles to impress anyone or to coerce anyone into believing. He chose not to gut free will through overwhelming an individual’s ability to say “no” to Him.

The sign from heaven missed by the Pharisees is that Jesus showed us the nature of God — that He is love. Jesus loved, and that’s why He healed, why He taught, and why He cast out demons. He loves us even when we are unlovely. Out of love, He went to the cross for us because there was no other way to expunge our sin.

Jesus does no show-boating miracles. He doesn’t snap His fingers and draw lightning down from heaven or summon hosts of angels to become visible to skeptical religious or irreligious people. He doesn’t write “Jesus saves!” in the clouds.

This is not to say He refrained from giving us signs. The Gospel of John explicitly notes seven signs Jesus performed — from transforming water into wine to raising Lazarus from the dead. Mark shows us the signs of His feeding the 5,000 and the 4,000, plus the healings and deliverances, and at the end, His resurrection from the dead.

I had a college friend who locked himself in his dorm room for three days and demanded Jesus do a miracle in the room. Three days later, my friend walked out of the room an agnostic. He made the same mistake as the Pharisees. He didn’t act on the signs already given to him: that the created order, like a wristwatch, did not happen by accident; that Jesus’ resurrection is the only viable historical evidence for why the tomb was empty; that lives today are still being delivered, healed and transformed by Jesus.

The signs Jesus gives are enough to lead us to a faith that rests in the sufficiency of the evidences. His signs satisfy our deepest needs, not our curiosity.

A prayer of response
Lord, when they were done testing, You left them. Only Your disciples got into the boat with You. I don’t want to be left apart from You. I want to be wherever You are.

GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

On Your Mark

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2013 On Your Mark

2012 On Your Mark

2011 On Your Mark

2010 On Your Mark

2009 On Your Mark

2008 On Your Mark

Podcasts of On Your Mark are available in video and audio.
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