February 17, 2020 (Monday) - Signs - A Reflection on Mark 8:11-13

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.

If the Pharisees weren’t so wrongly motivated, we might almost sympathize with them. After all, we too look for signs. But the Pharisees weren’t asking for a sign so they could believe in Jesus. They had already made up their minds about him. They asked for a sign so they could trap him. If he worked a miracle, they could accuse him of blasphemy. If he didn’t, they could accuse him of being a false prophet.

Besides, Jesus had already give them signs. If his awesome preaching was not enough, his miraculous multiplication of a few fish and loaves to feed thousands, should have. But, as I already said, they weren’t looking to believe; they were looking to condemn, and no matter what Jesus did, nothing would have changed their minds about him. This is what being hard-hearted is. So many of us are the same way.

Our God is a God who reveals himself when sought. I often tell people who are confused about the existence of God, or unsure about which one he is in a pantheon of gods, to tell him to show himself because I know he does. Not only have I seen the truth of this in my life, I have seen thousands of people experience him when they open their hearts to the truth of his reality. The key to this is truly seeking him with an open heart.

However, many don’t want to believe in the existence of God because it results in a change of mind — and that isn’t easy because it means admitting that I have been wrong. It results in a change of heart — and this isn’t easy either because I suspect a lot of us like the freedom to desire whatever we want. And it results in a change of life — and this is perhaps the hardest because we don’t really want to change the way we live.

But if you are open minded (this is the scientific way, right, to be open minded?) and open hearted, go ahead and tell God to reveal himself. And while he is at it, ask him to tell you his name. Scripture says, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test” (Deuteronomy 6:16), but this is doing what the Jews did: asking him to prove himself. When the apostle Thomas, who knew Jesus asked for a sign, Jesus let him put his hand into his side. Thomas immediately confessed, “My Lord and my God!”

All said, I would like to leave you with the words of Jesus to Thomas in conclusion, “You have believed because you have seen me; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)