The Fifth Sunday in Lent, April 2

The Pharisees Demand a Sign
Mark 8:11-21

There are two sections in this passage. In verses 11-12, the Pharisees wanted to “test” Jesus, so they asked for a “sign”—not because it would help them believe in Him—but to expose Him as a false prophet. Knowing their intent, Jesus “sighed deeply”, wondering why they were asking for a sign, and said, “No sign will be given to this generation”. The irony is that Jesus, only a few days before, had miraculously fed thousands with only a few loaves and fishes—a sign the Pharisees had apparently missed (or refused to see).

In verses 13-21, Jesus and the disciples were traveling across the lake, and the disciples realized they had only one loaf of bread. Jesus heard their concern and said, “Watch out—beware the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.” The disciples asked each other if Jesus was talking about their lack of bread, and He asked them, “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? . . .” He then reminded them of the recent feeding of the thousands and how many “baskets full of pieces” were gathered after everyone had been fed.

We might think, how could the disciples not understand the significance of what they’d seen and heard in the miraculous feeding of thousands? But don’t we, too, in times of trouble and nonchalance, fail to see or understand signs of the Lord in our daily lives? How can we fail to remember and understand that our very existence, and all that we have or need, has come from His hand?

Stepping Out in Lent - Jesus became frustrated with the disciples because they were focused on bread, when the “bread of life” was sitting in their midst! Let us strive to see and understand that Jesus (the Sign) is in our midst—in times of need and plenty—and has given us both life and life eternal by His death and resurrection.

Author – Peter Martin has been an attorney in private practice since he and wife Louisa moved to Tallahassee in 1989. They are now delighted grandparents of twin grand-daughters, aged 1 ½ years old.