The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” 13And he left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side.
14 Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat.15 And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”[b]16 And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. 17 And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” 20 “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” 21 And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”
“Don’t ask a question the answer to which you do not know in advance.” This is #4 of IRVING YOUNGER’S TEN COMMANDMENTS OF CROSS-EXAMINATION. I guess attorneys don’t want to be surprised as they seek to challenge the witness of the opposing counsel. He likely learned it from God.
In Genesis we read of God walking in the garden and asking, “Adam, where are you?” Of course He who knows all things knew the answer to that question. Likewise when he asked, “Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” God already knew.
I think Jesus knew, as well, the answer to the question he asked, “Why does this generation seek a sign?”. He asked it with a deep sigh. Certainly he was distressed that the religious leaders were so opposed to him, and to God. Surely he had tired of their continuous antagonism. His answer to them, however, reveals a bit more. They will receive no sign. God is not skipping to their jump rope rhyme.
But be clear: he is not kowtowing because his purpose is greater by far than running their errands and satisfying their curiosities. He came not to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. They will have their way with him – in their own estimation. But it will be on his terms, not theirs.
It’s difficult to imagine God being so totally in control of all things, yet subject to such whimsical impulses as he appeared to be. Suffering the incessant questions and challenges of the Jewish leaders, yet all the while keeping control of every situation. “No one takes my life from me,” Jesus says (John 10:18). He will give it – the ultimate sacrifice and service. Certainly part of the reason for his sigh was his deep sadness that so many would reject him. And though he would triumph of sin and the grave, they would not embrace the gift.
I suspect he also knew the answer to the question he asked his disciples, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened?Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember?”
We will consider that tomorrow, with the anticipation of a different sort of motive.