They said therefore unto him, What then doest thou for a sign, that we may see, and believe thee? what workest thou?

John 6:30 ASV

The marvelous wonder of the day before was lost on that carnal multitude of people.

Instead of being convinced, they demanded sign upon sign, even suggesting a moment later that Jesus’ miracle was inferior to Moses’ miracle (it was not Moses’ miracle, but God’s) of the manna.

The manna had been provided for a period of forty years and was held to be superior to the barley loaves Jesus created.

However, God’s purpose was different in the two cases.

In the wilderness, the survival of the chosen people was the objective; but in the ministry of Christ, it was the identification of Jesus as the Messiah and divine Son of God which was the objective; and, for the latter purpose, creation of barley loaves for five thousand people was just as effective (or should have been) as feeding a million people for a whole generation.

What then … for a sign …

This demand of a sign was characteristic of that people.

The Pharisees demanded a “sign from heaven” (Matthew 16:1; 12:38), no doubt meaning some spectacular wonder of their own choosing; but Jesus rejected such vain and carnal demands, resting the final proof of his Godhead upon “the sign of the prophet Jonah,” that is, the death, burial and resurrection from the dead.

Mark stated of another occasion that Jesus “marveled at their unbelief” (Mark 6:6). Surely Jesus must have marveled here also.


Unbelief is such a wonder that Christ himself marveled at it!

I. Unbelief is a state in which man consciously accepts for himself the status and destiny of a mere animal.

Contrary to the deepest instinct of the soul and the prompting of his own ego, the unbeliever rejects the status available to him as a child of God, claims descent from simian ancestors, and ascribes to himself a destiny identical with that of a rat or a worm.

II. Unbelief is contrary to man’s nature. Man’s very nature is to believe, an inveterate trait locked into the deepest instincts of human life.

Evil men know that trait is in men and take full advantage of it, all of the schemes ever devised for defrauding men having as their dominant characteristic a reliance on man’s willingness to believe almost anything.

As P. T. Barnum indelicately stated it, “There’s a sucker born every minute!”

What an incredible marvel it is, therefore, that in the contemplation of the mountains of evidence attesting the authenticity of Christ and his message, the behavior of mankind should be atypical.

What a wonder that people will not believe in God, but will believe in witchcraft! No wonder Jesus marveled at unbelief.

III. Unbelief is a denial of man’s highest hopes.

The unbeliever forsakes the hope of heaven, forfeits all cosmic value for himself, and flaunts his conviction that he shall descend to the rottenness of a grave and remain there forever.

Such a spiritual renunciation is soul suicide; and even Christ marveled at such a thing.

IV. Unbelief is a denial of the senses and a closing of the windows of the mind.

It is a refusal to see, to hear, and to understand the mountainous evidence calling men to believe in the Lord Jesus.

It is like a man staring at the Grand Canyon or the Matterhorn and saying, “I do not believe it!”

The Holy Bible, the history of Israel, the great commemorative festivals of Judaism and Christianity, the sweep of the religion of Christ through history and the collateral enlightenment and civilization which invariably attended it, and the lives of faith in all ages these the unbeliever will not see.

The thundering voice of history, the testimony of the calendar, and the witness of all that is highest and best in art, literature, music, architecture, government, and psychology – all are rejected by the unbeliever in the manner of Southey’s owl hooting at the noon sun, and saying, “Where is it? Where is it?”

V. Unbelief is reverse logic.

In Mark 6:6, where it is stated that Jesus marveled because of their unbelief, the reference is to the citizens of Nazareth who rejected Jesus because he lived in their village!

This was their logic (?): We are unworthy and ignoble; Christ came from one of our families; therefore he is unworthy and ignoble!

That is exactly like saying: I hear this great and wonderful music; but since a person like I am is hearing it, it cannot possibly be true! This is the logic (?) that supports unbelief.

Then what a marvel indeed is unbelief! It is a display of human ignorance, perversity, and conceit turned wrong-side out, that staggers the imagination and is no easier to understand than the death march of the lemmings.

That the highest of creatures should consciously reject for himself any higher eternal status than that of a dog makes no sense at all, being an unqualified wonder.

And afterward he was manifested unto the eleven themselves as they sat at meat; and he upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them that had seen him after he was risen. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned.
Mark 16:14‭-‬16 ASV
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