I was recently studying Mark 8 in which the Pharisees ask Jesus for a “sign.” They wanted it to come from “heaven” (8:11). They wanted Him to do something that would show He was the Christ.
I have to admit that I am not really sure what they were looking for. Jesus had performed many signs for them as recorded in the Book of Mark. For example, He had cast out many demons. But they had concluded that the signs He did were possible because Satan was working through Him (3:22).
We know that they were not interested in believing in Him. Their search for a “sign” was not a sincere one. They had already made up their minds. Mark tells us this when he says that they asked for a sign in order to test Him (8:11).
I have two guesses as to what their motive was. Perhaps they thought He could not do a sign from “heaven.” Since, in their mind, Satan was doing the work, perhaps they thought Jesus couldn’t do anything in the heavens because that was God’s realm. An inability to do any signs in heaven would show that Jesus was not from God.
Another possibility, at least in my mind, is that they were looking for an opportunity to charge Jesus with blasphemy. If Jesus did something in the heavens, perhaps they could accuse Him of dishonoring God by whatever miracle He performed. After all, if He were doing something under the power of Satan, perhaps He would do something blasphemous in God’s realm.
Whatever their motivation was, Jesus does not perform any sign at all. He knows they have already made up their minds about His identity and tells them that no “sign” from “heaven” will be given to “this generation.”
I thought all those words were familiar and a quick search found that all of them occur in a later passage in Mark. In Mark 13, Jesus is talking to His disciples about His second coming. The disciples ask what will be the “sign” when all these things will occur (13:4). As Jesus explains the future, He tells them that He will come in the clouds with great power and glory (quoting from Daniel 7) and that the powers of the “heavens” will be shaken. He will gather His elect from one end of “heaven” to the other. When the things discussed in chapter 13 occur, “this generation” of Jews will not pass away until He comes again (13:24-30).
I don’t think these parallels are an accident. The generation of Jews in Jesus’ day, as pictured in the Pharisees, rejected Him as their King. They disingenuously asked for a sign from heaven. They would not receive one. However, there is coming a believing generation of Jews who will indeed see a sign from heaven showing that He is the Messiah. He will return in the clouds of heaven with great power to set up His glorious millennial kingdom. Just think, every believer in Jesus Christ will be with Him on that day!