Craving for Signs
Mark 8:11-21
And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him.…

I. WHENCE THE CRAVING SPRINGS. "The Jews seek after a sign." It is the spirit we nowadays term "sensationalism." It is a natural desire for a certain pleasure of the mind. Fixed ideas, a sameness of mental representations, wearies and saddens the mind. Hence the craving for amusement, which gives change to the perpetual march past of the same old thoughts. The feeling is natural enough. The Jews, who had no science in our sense, and did not live in an interesting age like ours, wanted signs and wonders to amuse. We can understand the feeling, and allow it to be natural, but at the same time not religious.


1. The form of denial and refusal is very strong and emphatic indeed. (Ver. 12.) Signs will be given to those who are ready to profit by them, not to gratify idle curiosity. How severely does Christ discountenance "sensationalism" in connection with his religion! He will have as little noise, as little rumor, finger-pointing, gaping of vacant crowd, as possible. "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation."

2. Besides, an express warning is given: against "the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod." This means much the same as the Pharisees and Sadducees, apparently. The political Herodians were many of them Sadducees. Again, the Pharisees and Sadducees had a certain common basis of teaching. Both were at once in opposition to Jesus and the aims of his kingdom. The Pharisees, strongly conservative of Judaism, would disparage Jesus and his works. The other party would object to any "kingdom of heaven," acknowledging only the Roman empire. The "leaven" means both the teaching and the spirit of it (cf. Matthew 16:12; Luke 12:1).

III. THE UNSPIRITUAL MIND CONSTANTLY MISUNDERSTOOD HIM. The disciples stuck at the word "leaven" - leaven-loaves. "We forgot to bring provisions with us!" The error was double. They caught at the sound instead of the sense. And they showed forgetfulness of the miracle they had so recently witnessed. "How is it that you do not consider?" Christ is just as much misunderstood to-day as he was then. We forget the spirit of Christianity; we blunder over its meaning. He says to us to-day, "How is it that you do not consider?" "Moral evidence is most profitable and proper for religious truth. Lower proof is desired when higher is disregarded and despised. Forgetfulness of the past occasions needless anxiety for the future" (J. H. Godwin). - J.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him.

WEB: The Pharisees came out and began to question him, seeking from him a sign from heaven, and testing him.

The Refusals of Christ
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