Mark 8:12 (AV)
And he sighed deeply¹ in his spirit², and saith,
Why doth this generation³ seek after⁴ a sign⁵?
verily I say unto you,
There shall no sign⁵ be given unto this generation³.
¹) To draw up deep sighs from the bottom of the breast.
²) The spiritual nature of the Christ, higher than the highest angels, and equal to God, the divine nature of Christ. (See also below)
³) The whole multitude of men living at the same time. Metaphorically used for a group of men very like each other in endowments, pursuits, character, especially in a bad sense, a perverse nation.
⁴) To enquire for, seek for, search for, wish for, demand.
⁵) A sign, a mark, a token, by which a person or a thing is distinguished from others and is known.
And He groaned and sighed deeply in His spirit and said, Why does this generation demand a sign? Positively I say to you, no sign shall be given this generation. [AMP] 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." [ESV] Provoked, he said, "Why does this generation clamor for miraculous guarantees? If I have anything to say about it, you'll not get so much as a hint of a guarantee." [MSB] And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation. [KJV] He sighed deeply and said, "Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it." [NIV] When he heard this, he sighed deeply and said, "Why do you people keep demanding a miraculous sign? I assure you, I will not give this generation any such sign." [NLT] But He sighed deeply in His spirit, and said, "Why does this generation seek a sign? Assuredly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation." [NKJV]
Some further information
And he sighed deeply in his spirit
The language is very strong. These glimpses into the interior of the Redeemer’s heart, in which our Evangelist abounds, are more precious than rubies.
The state of the Pharisaic heart, which prompted this desire for a fresh sign, went to His very soul.
Groaned in the spirit, as in Mark 7:34; Romans 8:23; 2 Corinthians 6:2,4.
It was an expression of grief and pity because many would not turn to God through all the divine manifestations then being given daily to convince them of His misson.
Why doth this generation
“this wicked and adulterous generation” ( Matthew 16:4).
This expresses the divine problem with men.
That of getting them to have faith in God and in the divine plan.
Seek after a sign?
When they have had such abundant evidence already.
Greek: ἀμήν (amen)
▪︎ At the beginning of a discourse it means: surely, truly, of a truth.
▪︎ At the end of a discourse it means: so it is, so be it, may it be fulfilled.
To use this word was a custom, which passed over from the synagogues to the Christian assemblies, that when he who had read or discoursed, or had offered up solemn prayer to God, the others responded Amen, and in this way making the substance of what was uttered their own.
The word “amen” is a most remarkable word.
It was transliterated directly from the Hebrew into the Greek of the New Testament, and from there into Latin and English and many other languages, so that it is now practically a universal word.
It has been called the best known word in human speech, although I have found that many who know the word, don’t know its meaning.
The word is directly related -in fact, almost identical- to the Hebrew word for “believe” (amam), or faithful.
Thus, it came to mean “sure” or “truly,” an expression of absolute trust and confidence.
There shall no sign be given unto this generation
Literally, “If there shall be given to this generation a sign”; a Jewish way of expressing a solemn and peremptory determination to the contrary (compare Hebrews 4:5 , Psalms 95:11).
A generation incapable of appreciating such demonstrations shall not be gratified with them.
God was under no obligation to satisfy further the demands of unbelief and wilful rejection of the innumerable signs that were being manifest daily, so He left them to their own destiny.
In Matthew 16:4 is added, “but the sign of the prophet Jonas.”
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The request of the Pharisees caused a violent reaction in the Lord Jesus.
Marcus writes here that He sighed deeply. Jesus sighed deeply to God (cf. Mark 7:34). This groaning came from the bottom of His heart, Mark indicates this with the words ‘in the Spirit’ (cf. John 11:33, 13:21).
It was for a reason that He responded this way.
That those Pharisees asked Him for a sign from heaven came from pure unbelief. That made Him very sad and worried.
And so Jesus came to exclaim as if in one breath, Why does this generation want a sign?
It was an exclamation of surprise and horror. As if they would still come to faith.
By referring to them as ‘this generation’, Jesus clearly indicated how He felt about them. It has an unfavorable meaning (cf. Mark 8:38: ‘adulterous and sinful generation’; Mark 9:19: ‘unbelieving generation’; Mark 13:30, see also Matthew 12:39).
Similar wording is used several times in the Old Testament with regard to the unfaithful people of Israel (see Deuteronomy 32:5, 20; Psalm 95:10).
The second part of this verse bears the character of a Hebrew oath formula, that is, a statement in the strongest of terms.
The word ‘egg’ (if) is a literal translation of the Hebrew ‘im’ at the beginning of an oath. We can translate it “by no means” (compare Genesis 14:23; Deuteronomy 1:35; Psalms 89:36; 95:11).
Jesus introduced this formula with the solemn assurance, “Truly I say to you” (cf. Mark 3:28).
All in all, He firmly turned down those Pharisees’ requests.
Now let us reflect on this
Sighing heavily in His Spirit.
The Lord Jesus has been a true Man, so we confess with the church of the ages.
We see that clearly in the Gospels where we see Him,
▪︎ speaking with the multitudes,
▪︎ comforting a widow,
▪︎ rebuking the Pharisees,
▪︎ weeping at Lazarus’ grave.
And here we see a sighing Jesus.
There is a lot of sighing.
Sometimes it’s a sigh of longing,
▪︎ then there is another sigh, one of relief,
▪︎ but another time there is also a sigh of sorrow, when all our efforts fail to bring a prodigal son home.
The latter is the sighing of Jesus here. A heavy groan over the stone hearts that refuse to be converted.
Hearts that ask for a sign, but if they would get that sign, it still will not lead them to conversion. This is a sighing that should be fearful to the sinner, for in this sighing it is expressed that there is no more means to move that stiff soul. This is how much our salvation touches the heart of our Lord Jesus.
Where His words fail, may there His sighs break the heart, because of so much love and compassion.
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