The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with Jesus, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” Mark 8:11-12
Jesus “sighed from the depth of His spirit.” It is clear this was no ordinary sigh. It was a sigh that was more than emotion. It was from the “depth of His spirit.” What was going on with Jesus?
This sigh reveals a pain and suffering in Jesus that was spiritual in nature. It was a pain and suffering that came as a result of being rejected by others. But it wasn’t just that He was hurt or offended, because He wasn’t. The suffering He felt was from His love. It came as a result of Him loving the Pharisees deeply and realizing that they were rejecting the grace He wanted to offer them. This hurt not because Jesus was sensitive to being hurt; rather, it hurt because of His boundless love for them.
It’s interesting that we rarely think of Jesus’ love for the Pharisees. Often, we only think of Him being harsh to them and condemning them. But every strong word He directed toward them was aimed at converting them out of love. It was an attempt, on His part, to shake them out of their indifference and rejection of grace. It was an act of love.
Reflect, today, upon the “Pharisees” in your life. Perhaps you do not encounter those who are proud or haughty, or maybe you do. The Pharisees in your life are those who reject the free gift of love you try to offer. They are those who are so hurt, confused or bitter that they find it very hard to let love in. They throw up every sort of defence there is to avoid letting your love in. And when you see this rejection, it hurts. It may then tempt you to have anger or condemnation.
But how should you react? You should do as Jesus did! You should sigh, and “sigh deeply.” You should feel the hurt of their rejection and feel holy sorrow for them. At times, you may need to confront them as Jesus did. But never out of your wounded pride. You should confront only because you judge that it’s the best way to win them over. You will know that this is an act of love when you feel that deep sigh within your spirit.