18 So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?”
The content found in John 2:18-22 is not related anywhere in the synoptics of Matthew, Mark, or Luke.
The cleansing of the temple startled the Jews’ complacency about its condition. This had implications of how they responded to Jesus. They did not mention the cleansing of the temple but simply asked Jesus’ authority for doing it.
John used the Greek word for “so” (oun) over 200 times. It was an important word to John. This word indicates the transition into a new paragraph. Because of what Jesus did in the temple, He got a negative reaction.
the Jews answered and said to Him,
The Jews demanded that Jesus present to them His authority for cleansing the temple. They did have the right to question Jesus about the issue of theological authority.
“What sign do You show to us,
The Jews demanded that Jesus justify His action in cleansing the temple by giving a “sign.” It was common for authorities to ask for proof from a prophet to determine whether he was legitimate (Mt 12:38; 16:1).
The use of “sign” here is not the same usage as Jesus’ sign miracles. It was characteristic of Jews to ask for a sign (1 Co 1:22). They sought proof of His right to cleanse the temple. They wanted to establish the terms around the issue. Jesus, however, did not yield to this demand. Signs can simply convey the authority of a prophet who speaks for God. The essence of a sign is not that it is always a miraculous act but that carries symbolic significance that comes from God. However, all signs point to Jesus as the Messiah.
It is important not to take the word “sign” here in the same way that it is used for Jesus’ sign miracles. It is used much more loosely here. The Jews were merely looking for proof for His authority for cleansing the temple. When they were exposed to a genuine sign miracle from Jesus, they rejected it (Jn 12:37).
Most signs in the gospel of John are miraculous but they are more than miracles. A “sign” is an act that symbolizes the significance of eternal reality. A sign interprets the work of Jesus and proves that He is the Messiah, the Son of God. The idea of a sign is that it gives witness to Jesus’ works. These signs are divided according to all the activities of Jesus, not just the narratives. All of them point to Jesus as the Messiah. All signs are Christ centered. If a sign does not point to Christ, it is of no significance.
since You do these things?”
“These things” is the cleansing of the temple. The Jews did not arrest Jesus at this time. Since this was early in His ministry, they may have thought that He was a prophet rather than the Messiah.
The Jews did not deal with the justice of what Jesus did in cleansing the temple but only with His authority for doing so.
People today reject God’s method for coming to truth and establish their own.
Scientists today demand their own terms for believing in the supernatural and in Christ. This is to set up their own condition for determining what is true. This is a gross presupposition, an assumption that their precondition is true. They demand that everyone yield to their belief system.