2. What marked Jesus’ anointing, and in what activity did he engage?
2 As shown by this quotation, ‘the Jews asked for signs.’ Were not ample signs provided by Jesus? He came to the Jordan River in 29 C.E. and presented himself for baptism. As he came up out of the water, God’s spirit in the form of a dove descended upon him, and Jehovah’s voice from heaven said: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.” After spending 40 days in the wilderness and successfully resisting the Devil’s temptations, Jesus began preaching the kingdom and performing miracles. Matthew records the effect of this activity: “He went around throughout the whole of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news of the kingdom and curing every sort of disease and every sort of infirmity among the people. And the report about him went out into all Syria; and they brought him all those faring badly, distressed with various diseases and torments, demon-possessed and epileptic and paralyzed persons, and he cured them. Consequently great crowds followed him from Galilee and Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from the other side of the Jordan.”—Matt. 3:13-17; 4:23-25.
“WE WANT TO SEE A SIGN”
3. What signs did Jesus perform, yet what request did the scribes make?
3 So astounded were the people by his miraculous works that they viewed him as the promised Messiah. “When the Christ arrives,” they asked, “he will not perform more signs than this man has performed, will he?” Jesus turned water into wine, walked on water, calmed the winds and quieted stormy seas, miraculously fed thousands on a few loaves and fishes, cured the sick, made the lame walk, opened the eyes of the blind, cured lepers and even raised the dead. Who could ask for more than this? The religious leaders of the Jewish nation could and did. They had been eyewitnesses of many of these signs by Jesus, and had received reports of many more of them. But in spite of that, the scribes and the Pharisees came to Jesus with what seems like an appalling request: “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.”—John 7:31; Matt. 12:38.
4, 5. In view of their profession, what should these scribes and Pharisees have known that should have convinced them of Jesus Messiahship?
4 Of all men to ask for additional proof of Jesus as Messiah, these religious leaders should have been the last! The scribes spent their lives poring over the Hebrew Scriptures. They were meticulous in their study of them, and debated long and tediously with one another to come to right conclusions as to their application. They had accumulated a vast array of oral tradition that purported to explain and clarify the Hebrew Scriptures in all their minute details. And in their studies they surely knew of the prophecies foretelling the coming of the promised Messiah.
5 They knew, did they not, that Messiah was to be of the tribe of Judah, of the family of David, born in Bethlehem, that his coming was to be heralded by one likened to Elijah, that he was to carry the sicknesses and pains of the Jewish people? Over 300 Hebrew prophecies concerning the Messiah’s first coming were fulfilled in Jesus—many of them already fulfilled when they came to ask Jesus for a sign. Jesus reminded them that because of their study of the Scriptures they should know about him: “You are searching the Scriptures, because you think that by means of them you will have everlasting life; and these are the very ones that bear witness about me.”—John 5:39.
6. How did Jesus reply to their request, and why not scornfully?
6 So, did the Son of God answer with withering scorn when they said: “We want to see a sign from you”? Let us see: “In reply he said to them: ‘A wicked and adulterous generation keeps on seeking for a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. For just as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish three days and three nights, so the Son of man will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.” (Matt. 12:38-40) No, Jesus reply did not berate them for ignoring the many miraculous signs already given, or for their failing to be convinced by Messianic prophecies already fulfilled in him. He understood them, their desire, their error, and his reply came to grips with such a situation.
For both the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks look for wisdom;