Jesus and the Sign Seekers

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Mark 8:11-13

Tonight we are going to take a look at becoming a true disciple from a passage that you may not normally go to.
And we are going to discuss it from an angle that may not be something you would first consider when thinking about being a true disciple.
Let’s analyze and mine out understanding from this passage of Scripture. We are going to first set up the discussion and then look at Jesus’s response from other related passages.
1Q. The Pharisees came out and began to dispute with him. (They have themselves a “come to Jesus” moment)
a. This may sound like a minor point but the phrase “came out” literally suggests that this was their motive. They were coming to Jesus for the express purpose to dispute with him.
1A. What is the posture with which we should approach Jesus? How should we “come out” to meet him?
a. What Scripture would you think of when considering this question? How should we approach God (or) how should we come to Jesus?
b. Hebrews 11:6
Hebrews 11:6 NKJV
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
c. There is actually a very important concept here. Believing that “he is” relates to the revelation of God … “I am that I am.” He told Moses tell them that “I AM” has sent you.
The understanding here is that when we come to God, it must be done in an awareness of and appreciation for who he says that he is.
Jesus had already declared himself to be the Messiah. He had been affirmed at the Jordan River when he was baptized by John when the voice from heaven spoke, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” He had already demonstrated that the authority of God was upon him in his teaching and in the miracles that he performed.
So they were not coming to Jesus in their naivety or in confusion of who he is. The reality is, they did not want to believe or accept it.
Big Teaching Point - Every person has been given a measure of faith! (Rom 12:3) God has already ‘gifted’ us with the one thing that He says that is necessary to come to him (according to Heb 11:6).
Romans 12:3 NKJV
For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
Hebrews 11:6 NKJV
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
God simply asks us to use what we have been given to respond to Him properly. So, diligently seeking after God is different that seeking after a sign. This is Huge!!! Because Jesus asks the BIG QUESTION: “Why does this generation seek a sign?”
The answer to that question is really the key to understanding what the heart is of true disciples.
2Q. So let’s just venture off of that question for a moment (and we will get back to it shortly). But let’s venture off that question and ask this first, “Are signs wrong? Is Jesus suggesting that signs are bad and those who seek them are consequently bad?”
a. This is an important step because we don’t want to swing the pendulum so far in the opposite direction that we begin to say that signs are bad and that if signs are bad then the supernatural is really for those who have weak faith, etc. Right?
b. So what does the Bible say about signs?
2A. Let’s look at Hebrews 2:3-4
Hebrews 2:3–4 NKJV
how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?
a. So the very gospel of salvation was declared, confirmed and witnessed with a message that included signs and wonders.
b. The miracles of Jesus were both because of his care and compassion for mankind (he wanted to help hurting people - Luke 4) AND to demonstrate that God was at work! But remember this … Jesus did not perform miracles to produce faith.
His denial of Satan’s temptations in the wilderness were precisely because he was tempted to use his authority in ways that answered the question, “If you really are the Son of God ...”
Jesus performed miracles because he was God … not just because there was a need (because he didn’t always heal all that were need) … not just because of faith (some people who struggled with believing still got a miracle) … not just because he wanted to put on a display so people would have to undeniably acknowledge him (many still denied his Messiahship because he allows for free choice). Hebrews 2 says it, “according to His own will.” Because He is God!
3Q. So now to Jesus question. Verse 12 says he “sighed deeply in His spirit and said, ‘Why does this generation seek a sign?’”
a. So, let’s think about what we have discussed this far. We know that God has gifted us with the one thing that we need to “come to Him” in a way that is “pleasing” to God. In John 4 Jesus told the woman at the well it is actually the desire of God for people to come to Him in this way. (“For the Father seeketh such to worship Him.”). Signs are a part of the NT and part of the declaration of the gospel.
So the problem cannot be with the signs … it must be with the heart of the Pharisees and those who think like them.
b. What is that thing that frustrated Jesus so deeply?
3A. Why were they seeking a sign? (vs. 11 - “to tempt/test him”)
a. What did Jesus say to Satan when he told him, “he has given the angels charge over you … jump off the temple wall and prove you are the Son of God,”? What was His response?
It is written, “You shall not tempt/test the Lord your God.”
b. That is a key to understanding … you shall not tempt/test God. Does that mean that we are to never question God … or seek to understand what does not make sense to us? Not at all. God invites His children to enquire of him and if we lack wisdom ask of him who gives to all men liberally (James 1:25).
c. Let me say it like this. Think about an earthly father. Sometimes our fathers disciplined us by telling us we couldn’t go certain places or stay up late on school nights or hang out with certain people. And you don’t always understand. Let’s say your father comes to give you a birthday gift but you say, “I will not receive your gift until you have a DNA test and prove to me that you are my father.”
What do you think your father would say about that?
This is precisely what they were doing concerning Jesus.

Conclusion

Matthew 12 Synopsis

We don’t have time to go through Matthew 12 where in Matthew 12:38 the scribes and Pharisees said, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.”
But consider this:
Matthew 12 is maybe like a series of encounters that are recorded.
In vv 1-2 they questioned Jesus legitimacy by arguing that they had broken the Sabbath labor laws.
In vv 9-10 they argued that Jesus had broken the Sabbath by healing the man with the withered hand. How did they bring this up? They asked a question: “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—that they might accuse Him.”
In v 13 they plotted against Him to see how they might destroy him.
In vv 22-24 they brought him a demon-possessed boy so that they could accuse him of casting out demons by Beelzebub.
Then - the audacity - in v 38 they said, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.”
Do you see why Jesus called them a “wicked and adulterous generation for seeking after a sign.”

What is the heart of a true disciple?

Someone who is open and receptive to the influence of the Holy Spirit (Luke 10).
Someone who is willing to allow Jesus to change what they care about.
Someone who learns how to identify and make other disciples.

Closing Questions:

In what ways did the Pharisees demonstrate that they were not discipleable?
What would the position of a true disciple be as it relates to what we have just learned?
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