Then said they unto Him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him Whom He hath sent.
They said therefore unto Him, What sign shewest Thou then, that we may see, and believe Thee? what dost Thou work?
Remember, many of these people who are asking Jesus for a sign had enjoyed a miraculous picnic the previous day, filling their bellies with food that Jesus distributed to 5000 people from five small loaves and a couple of little fish.
And now they want a sign.
The passage in Mark 8:12-13 upon which this picture is based goes on to say that Jesus “sighed deeply in His spirit.”
The request for a sign reminds me of a small child who, having torn through a huge pile of Christmas gifts, looked up and said, “Is that all?”
But I’m ahead of myself. Going back to v. 28: The people asked Jesus what they needed to do in order to do God’s work. In yesterday’s passage, Jesus had told them not to labor for food that perishes, but to labor for eternal food. Now they used the same word–labor–in the sense of getting what they wanted from Him. “What (labor) shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” They thought if there were only some regimen to follow, some list of rules, some clear map, they could just follow it and they would have food; they would conquer Rome! Their minds were still on earthly things.
His answer was beautiful in its simplicity, and is just as applicable today as it was then: Believe on Me! Believe that the Father has sent Me!
And that’s when they asked Him for a sign. I doubt that Jesus was in the habit of rolling His eyes, but I wouldn’t blame Him if He had! He sighed deeply in His spirit. Not an adolescent, “nobody GETS me” sigh, but a sigh of deep understanding of the people He had come to redeem.
The people didn’t even pause to consider what He meant when He said, “Believe in Me.” They said, “What sign can you give us, that we may see and believe? What are Your works?”
I think they wanted something spectacular, like a bolt of lightning that would destroy Rome. I guess five loaves and two fish being made to feed 5000 people wasn’t spectacular enough.
But I wasn’t there, so I can’t be too quick to judge. Would I have been a part of that short-sighted crowd? I’d like to think not, but it’s entirely possible.