Once again ‘hard headed’ Pharisees approached Jesus. As usual it was to challenge Him. They wanted to see a “sign”, something which would speak directly of his authority.
Where had they been?! Jesus had been openly performing miracles and signs (Matthew 12:22-23). Their response… 24 “But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.” Would Satan work against himself? Of course not. Their hard heart was so obvious. Their request for a “sign” was answered this way… “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here” (Matthew 12:39-41). He had called them hypocrites and “vipers”, and now He points them to Jonah…. but why?
Jonah had prophesied some 800 years before. (Here is the short version.) God had called Jonah to go to Nineveh and tell them, “Repent of perish… He didn’t want to go, because they were the enemies of Israel. He figured, if he didn’t go, God would destroy them which would help Israel. Instead of going to Nineveh he went the opposite direction by boat. God sent a big storm, which threatened the ship, and Jonah confessed, he was running from God. This frightened the others, so he volunteered to be thrown over-board. Now God sends a big fish which swallows Jonah. Three days in that situation would make anyone repent, so he did. I can just imagine how sick Jonah made the fish sick, and he vomited Jonah up on the land. He then went and preached his short “REPENT OR PERISH” sermon. They repented, and God spared them…. Jonah pouted, God rebuked him.
Now you can’t call Jonah a fable without calling Jesus a liar. Jesus referred to Jonah as the only “Sign” they would get. So what is he referring to?
Jesus was speaking of the time when he would be crucified, and then on the third day, He would rise from the dead. (Just as Jonah had spent three days in the belly of the whale/ big fish…. Would this convince them? Evidently not, at least most of them rejected Jesus. This is why Jesus said that the people of Nineveh would testify against them in the judgment…. because the people of Nineveh repented, but these hard hearted Israelites did not.
All the miracles done in their presence… all the messages presented in their hearing…. all the prophesies fulfilled… even the greatest miracle of all… the resurrection of Jesus… who was seen by hundreds afterwards, (I Corinthians 15) … and many still refused. What will God do with those who’s hearts are so hard, that they are unmoved by His grace? (Luke 10:13-14). It’s not over, till it’s over friends.
Jesus And Jonah (The Reluctant Prophet)