10 Then right away he got into a boat with his followers and went to the area of Dalmanutha. 11 The Pharisees came to Jesus and began to ask him questions. Hoping to trap him, they asked Jesus for a miracle from God. 12 Jesus sighed deeply and said, “Why do you people ask for a miracle as a sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to you.” 13 Then Jesus left the Pharisees and went in the boat to the other side of the lake. ~ Mark 8:10-13
Today, we return to our study of Mark 8 where the Lord Jesus has just fed some 4000 people with seven loaves of bread and a few small fish that His disciples had on hand. This miracle, the feeding of the 4000 is the second largest miracle meal provided by the Lord Jesus recorded in the Gospels, second only to the feeding of the 5000 plus in Mark 6.
Our passage for today begins with v.10: "Then right away he got into a boat with his followers and went to the area of Dalmanutha."
This is the only mention in the Bible of the seaside community of Dalmanutha. In Matthew's account of this it says they sailed to a place called Magdala, the place where Mary Magdalene hailed. Magdala is a little town just north of Tiberias on the southwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Magdala is located near the ancient fishing village called Dalmanutha which was a stones throw away from Magdala.
Years ago, when the Sea of Galilee was low, archeologist, Ken Dark, discovered this little harbor town submerged under the water between Magdala and Capernaum, which turned out to be Dalmanutha. For many years, the skeptics undermined the Bible's veracity because there seemed to be no evidence that this little fishing village existed. That is, until it was uncovered by the archeological dig. No archeological finding has ever contradicted the claims of the Bible.
In v.11 of today's passage we read, "The Pharisees came to Jesus and began to ask him questions. Hoping to trap him, they asked Jesus for a miracle from God."
Since the attention of large crowds of people had been arrested by the miracles and the teachings of the Lord Jesus, and they were starting to follow Him, and His popularity was growing, the "religious leaders" made yet another attempt to curtail the Lord Jesus. Out of sheer envy and jealousy in the name of "religion" they tried to trap Him by asking for a miracle from God.
In v.12 of today's passage we read, "Jesus sighed deeply and said, "Why do you people ask for a miracle as a sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to you.'"
In response to the request of the religious leaders, the Lord Jesus sighed deeply. Unlike His earlier sighs, this sigh was a deep sigh which communicated a stronger emotion over the spiritual blindness of these so called spiritual leaders. His grief was profound over the hard-heartedness of these men. Their obstinate unbelief in the face of massive evidence led them to willful ignorance.
The typical word that Mark used throughout his gospel for miracles, he did not use here. He most often used the word from which we get our English word dynamic. But here, in today's passage, he used the word from which we get our English word sign.
These "religious leaders" wanted God the Father to personally authenticate the Lord Jesus in front of them. They wanted a personal, heavenly manifestation from God the Father giving the Lord Jesus Christ the authority as their Messiah. They asked for this because in several Old Testament passages they had been warned that even false prophets would be able to work miracles.
In v.13 we read, "Then Jesus left the Pharisees and went in the boat to the other side of the lake."
When we compare today's passage with Matthew 16, the Lord Jesus said a few things that Mark chose not to include. In addition, the Lord Jesus said to these stubborn religious leaders, "You can tell the weather, but you can’t discern the signs of the times." Then He went on to say, "You’re a wicked and adulterous generation."
Then the Lord Jesus reminded the religious leaders of the sign given through the Old Testament prophet Jonah. He said, "As Jonah was in the whale for three days, I’m going to be in the ground for three days." "That," He said, "will be the last sign that will be given to you." And when that sign came, and the word got back to the religious leaders of Israel that He had risen from the dead, they called the Roman soldiers in who were guarding the tomb and bribed them to lie about the resurrection. When they totally rejected the light, they were permanently enveloped by the darkness.
What a contrast we are given here between these Jewish religious leaders and the Gentile woman in the previous chapter. The Lord Jesus insulted both, but only the desperate woman chose not to play the victim card. In the end, what these religious leaders did was to close their hearts deliberately to the very One whom they said they worshipped.