In Jesus’ day in Palestine there was a noticeable tendency among the people to look for God in the extraordinary. The people believed that the advent of the Messiah would be accompanied by startling happenings in the heavens and on the earth. When false messiahs arose, they lured the people by promising astonishing signs.
This was the sort of sign that the Pharisees were demanding of Jesus. Jesus clearly and forcefully refused to give such a sign to the Pharisees: “I assure you, no such sign shall be given to this generation!”
Why did Jesus refuse to give a sign? The Gospel doesn’t provide a clear answer. However, there does seem to be a note of annoyance and even anger in Jesus’ refusal. His immediate departure from the place can also be interpreted as an expression of his disgust with the Pharisees. Furthermore, this line of reasoning is supported by Jesus’ conviction that the Pharisees were blinding themselves to the truth that he spoke, and that their self-imposed blindness was the cause of their lack of faith.
Undoubtedly, Jesus saw the demand for a sign as an expression of their lack of faith, a refusal to see the hand of God at work in the ordinariness of the world and in the less startling signs that he had been offering them through the power of his preaching and of his miracles.
Today, we too suffer from this same lack of faith. We fail to see the hand of the Lord in the ordinary. We fail to listen to the voice within us, the voice of God who dwells within us. If only we could teach ourselves to listen clearly as the Lord within us speaks to us! Hearing him would be the daily miracle that all of us now long for, the only sign we would ever need.
We need not look for God in the extraordinary, in dancing suns and days of darkness. His footsteps are all about us. We have only to open our eyes and see.