See this passage explained in Matthew 16:1-12.
Sighed deeply in his spirit - His heart was deeply affected at their wickedness and hypocrisy. The word “spirit” here is taken as the seat of the emotions, passions, affections. He drew groans deeply from his breast.
No sign be given - That is, no such sign as they asked, to wit, a sign “from heaven.” He said a sign should be given, the same as was furnished by Jonas, Matthew 16:4. But this was not what they “asked,” nor would it be given “because” they asked it.
Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees - See Matthew 16:6.
Of Herod - Of the Herodians - of Herod and his followers. Matthew, instead of “Herod,” has “the Sadducees.” It is not improbably that he cautioned them against them all. The Pharisees sought his life, and were exceedingly corrupt in their doctrine and practice; the Sadducees denied some of the essential doctrines of religion, and the Herodians probably were distinguished for irreligion, sensuality, and corrupt living. They were united, therefore, with the Pharisees and Sadducees in opposing the claims of Jesus. Matthew has recorded his caution to avoid the Pharisees and Sadducees, and Mark has added, what Matthew had omitted. the caution likewise to beware of the Herodians. Thus, the evangelists speak the same thing.
So great has been the spiritual blindness of men that they have sought to make of none effect the Word of God. They have declared by their traditions that the great plan of redemption was devised in order to abolish and make of none effect the law of God, when Calvary is the mighty argument that proves the immutability of the precepts of Jehovah.... The state of the character must be compared with the great moral standard of righteousness. There must be a searching out of the peculiar sins which have been offensive to God, which have dishonored His name and quenched the light of His Spirit and killed the first love from the soul.... TMK 256.4Read in context »
And yet they [the Jewish leaders] would not receive Him. While they claimed to keep the law, they denied it by their works. Having eyes they saw not, because of the ignorance that was in them through the hardness of their hearts. The impurity of their hearts, the defiling practices of their lives, their selfishness, their envy, their jealousy, their evil surmising, their transgression of the law of God, while they claimed to keep it, bore continual testimony as to their character. By the fruit the tree was known. Christ laid bare their true character. He declared that they were “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Mark 7:7). Again He says, “Ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God” (chap. 12:24). TDG 275.3Read in context »
When the message of truth is presented in our day, there are many who, like the Jews, cry, Show us a sign. Work us a miracle. Christ wrought no miracle at the demand of the Pharisees. He wrought no miracle in the wilderness in answer to Satan's insinuations. He does not impart to us power to vindicate ourselves or to satisfy the demands of unbelief and pride. But the gospel is not without a sign of its divine origin. Is it not a miracle that we can break from the bondage of Satan? Enmity against Satan is not natural to the human heart; it is implanted by the grace of God. When one who has been controlled by a stubborn, wayward will is set free, and yields himself wholeheartedly to the drawing of God's heavenly agencies, a miracle is wrought; so also when a man who has been under strong delusion comes to understand moral truth. Every time a soul is converted, and learns to love God and keep His commandments, the promise of God is fulfilled, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you.” Ezekiel 36:26. The change in human hearts, the transformation of human characters, is a miracle that reveals an ever-living Saviour, working to rescue souls. A consistent life in Christ is a great miracle. In the preaching of the word of God, the sign that should be manifest now and always is the presence of the Holy Spirit, to make the word a regenerating power to those that hear. This is God's witness before the world to the divine mission of His Son. DA 407.1
Those who desired a sign from Jesus had so hardened their hearts in unbelief that they did not discern in His character the likeness of God. They would not see that His mission was in fulfillment of the Scriptures. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus said to the Pharisees, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” Luke 16:31. No sign that could be given in heaven or earth would benefit them. DA 407.2
Jesus “sighed deeply in His spirit,” and, turning from the group of cavilers, re-entered the boat with His disciples. In sorrowful silence they again crossed the lake. They did not, however, return to the place they had left, but directed their course toward Bethsaida, near where the five thousand had been fed. Upon reaching the farther side, Jesus said, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” The Jews had been accustomed since the days of Moses to put away leaven from their houses at the Passover season, and they had thus been taught to regard it as a type of sin. Yet the disciples failed to understand Jesus. In their sudden departure from Magdala they had forgotten to take bread, and they had with them only one loaf. To this circumstance they understood Christ to refer, warning them not to buy bread of a Pharisee or a Sadducee. Their lack of faith and spiritual insight had often led them to similar misconception of His words. Now Jesus reproved them for thinking that He who had fed thousands with a few fishes and barley loaves could in that solemn warning have referred merely to temporal food. There was danger that the crafty reasoning of the Pharisees and the Sadducees would leaven His disciples with unbelief, causing them to think lightly of the works of Christ. DA 407.3Read in context »
If there is nothing more in all the Scriptures which point out definitely the way to heaven, we have it here in these words. They tell us what conversion is. They tell us what we must do in order to be saved. And, my friends, I want to tell you that this strikes directly at the root of the surface work in the religious world. It strikes directly against the idea that you can become a child of God without any particular change. There is a decided change wrought in us if the truth of God has found a place in our hearts, for it has a sanctifying power upon life and upon character. When we see the fruits of righteousness in those who claim to have advanced truth, as we claim to have it, then there will be a course of action which testifies that we have learned of Christ. FW 63.2Read in context »