“Why does this culture seek a sign? Truly I tell you, there will be no sign shown to this society.” (Mark 8:12)In sectarian versions, the Greek word γενεά (genea) is often translated to "generation."
Yet the Greek word γενεά (genea) means "a group of men very like each other in endowments, pursuits, character" and "the whole multitude of men living at the same time."
This is describing a particular culture or society of people. Not a generation.
A generation typically refers to a twenty-year period of time, also estimated to be those who were born during that twenty-year period. Why would Jesus refer to a period of twenty years? Were only those who were born in that twenty-year period seeking a sign? That simply doesn't make sense.
But a particular culture or society - yes, a culture or society can have certain customs and expectations.
"There will be no sign shown..."
What does Jesus mean by "no sign" being given? During Jesus' time, people expected the Messiah or Christ to come and a sign would prove it.
The Greek word being translated to "sign" is σημεῖον (sēmeion). According to the lexicon, this means "a sign, mark or token" - "that by which a person or a thing is distinguished from others and is known."
We are speaking of proof. They wanted proof that Jesus was the Messiah or Christ.
This is no different than a person demanding that God appear to their eyes before they will have faith in Him. Many people do this: They demand that God show Himself to them or they don't don't believe in Him.
It is a position of arrogance - thinking oneself so important that God will reveal Himself or His representative so they can believe.
Actually, the opposite situation exists. The Supreme Being is hidden from our view in the physical world. Our physical eyes are blocked from seeing God. It is the nature of the physical world.
Our material eyes are blocked from seeing God because we rejected God in the past. We rebelled against Him. So He sent us to the physical world because we wanted to be away from Him. Now we have our freedom from Him and we can believe in His existence or not. We can continue to reject Him if we want.
Why should He ruin our freedom by revealing Himself or His representative to us?
As long as we continue to be doubtful of His existence He continues to hide from us.
God shows Himself to those who trust Him
Why is Jesus saying there will be no sign?
Jesus is indicating that those who expect to see signs were not eligible to understand Jesus and God. Their arrogance in expecting a sign automatically disqualified them from understanding who Jesus was.
Such a person in effect is challenging God: 'If you exist, show me so.' Jesus reflected on this elsewhere:
“Unless you people see signs and miracles, you just will not believe.” (John 4:48)But as Jesus clarifies in Mark 8:12, the Supreme Being doesn't show Himself to those who challenge Him in this way. Why?
Jesus is speaking of trust. Someone who expects a sign before they will believe has a lack of trust in God.
Trust is the element that Jesus was looking for. Those who trust in the Supreme Being and trust that He has their best interests at heart will be given direction and guidance from God and His representative.
As practically everyone Jesus spoke to did believe in the existence of God - or at least they claimed to - we can know that Jesus wasn't teaching about belief in God. He was teaching about trusting God.
For example, such a person - who trusts in the Supreme Being - doesn't really even need a sign. Because they already trust God. They don't need some external thing to convince them. Such a person - when they heard Jesus' teachings - knew He was God's representative. Because they already had trust, and because Jesus glorified the Supreme Being in his teachings and actions.
Seeing God's signs everywhere
Such a person - who trusts in God - can actually see God's "signs" everywhere. For example, if you pick up an acorn and peel it a bit, you will find a seed that will grow into a large tree. That is quite a miracle - to place a large tree inside of a very small acorn. And not only that - a whole forest of trees are inside the acorn, because the tree that the acorn grows into will produce many other acorns - enough to grow an entire forest.
But a person with no trust - a person who has no faith in God - could see the same "signs" and see no miracle. Such a person is feeling they have the ability to judge - and their great brain power and intelligence can perceive whether or not God exists.
One might be reminded of the old Communist legend that goes like this:
A traveling communist 'red' army troop comes upon some countryside villagers who are starving. They are noticeably religious, so the general of army asks the crowd, "If your God exists, pray to Him for some bread. We'll return tomorrow to see if He brought any to you." So the army troop returns the next day and the villagers still have no bread. So the army general says, "Now pray to the communist party for bread." They do so, and the troop returns with a truckload of bread. "Who do you believe in now?" says the general.Certainly, this is trickery, but it goes to the point of needing proof that God exists. Those who trust in God do not need the proof.
When one speaks of a person - a personality - belief is a foregone conclusion. The issue regarding a personality is trust. Do we trust the person? Within trust is the assumption of knowing the person is trustworthy. And what is trustworthy? Someone we can rely upon. Someone who cares for us. Someone who has our best wishes at heart.
The Supreme Being is such a person. God is someone we can trust.
The understanding that God is a person is quite easy. Each of us is persons, right? Individuals, right? We each have independent wills and independent objectives.
The Creator must also contain what is created. God is also an individual, with His own will and likes and dislikes. Wanting to please God means wanting to do what God wants to do.
This requires a relationship - love.
If we accept that the Supreme Being is a person - and we trust Him - we can know that God does not appear - or deliver - at our beck and call. He is not our servant. While we might want God to be our servant - He isn't. And this is why we don't necessarily get what we pray for.
The reality is, we are God's servants. He is in control and we are not. He is the enjoyer and we are loving servants by nature.
Jesus explained this another way:
"Not everyone who says to me, ‘lord, lord,’ shall enter the sanctuary of the spiritual realm – only one who does what pleases my LORD in the spiritual realm." (Matt. 7:21)Regaining our place in heaven doesn't come by simply pledging allegiance to Jesus. Returning home to the spiritual realm requires entering into a relationship with God. Jesus is speaking of seeking to please the Supreme Being. This is pursuant to a loving relationship with God. Wanting to please the Supreme Being means to come to love God.
We are caregivers by nature
This is why even those with access to all the physical sense enjoyments are never satisfied ("I can't get no... satisfaction"). In this consciousness, we always want more, and none of this enjoyment makes us happy. Because enjoying for ourselves does not give us happiness - because we are caregivers by nature.
This is why we become joyful when we help others. When we serve others, we receive joy. And when we serve the Supreme Being - well, this brings the ultimate joy.
Why? Because this is why we were created. This is our purpose. God created us as His caregivers and playmates.
God doesn't want slaves. He wants an exchange of love. And love requires freedom. This is why God gives us the freedom to love Him or not.
And for those who choose not to love God - the Supreme Being created a virtual universe and temporary physical bodies so that we could pretend to be someone else for awhile, and pretend He doesn't exist.
This is why He doesn't appear in front of the senses of the physical body - because these physical bodies were created as facilities to ignore His existence. Why should He ruin our opportunity to escape Him?
Instead of doing this, he lays breadcrumbs - so to speak - everywhere. These are meant to subtly show us He exists - without ruining our fantasy. Such 'breadcrumbs' are intended for those who are ready to embrace Him. Those who are ready to return to our original consciousness of loving and giving.
Are you ready?