The Sign of Jonah
29 When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. 30 For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. 31
The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.
Observations and Reflections
Jesus giving the sign of Jonah is rhetorical way of saying that HE IS the sign they were looking for. Yet, the Ninevites repented after receiving the sign that was Jonah. They required no further signs than that of the word of the Lord. However, the crowds of people surrounding Jesus wanted more and Jesus had already shown them so much. Would any sign actually appease them?
What is interesting about this passage is that Jesus also evokes the Queen of the South, which was a female leader from Sheba. This queen’s story is short and can be found in 1 Kings 10. A portion can be read below.
Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions. 2 She came to Jerusalem with a very great retinue, with camels bearing spices and very much gold and precious stones. And when she came to Solomon, she told him all that was on her mind. 3 And Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing hidden from the king that he could not explain to her. 4 And when the queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, 5 the food of his table, the seating of his officials, and the attendance of his servants, their clothing, his cupbearers, and his burnt offerings that he offered at the house of the Lord, there was no more breath in her.
6 And she said to the king, “The report was true that I heard in my own land of your words and of your wisdom, 7 but I did not believe the reports until I came and my own eyes had seen it. And behold, the half was not told me. Your wisdom and prosperity surpass the report that I heard. 8 Happy are your men! Happy are your servants, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! 9 Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and set you on the throne of Israel! Because the Lord loved Israel forever, he has made you king, that you may execute justice and righteousness.” (1 Kings 10:1-9)
Did Jesus mean to say that the Queen would actually rise up and judge the Jews like a deity? Definitely not. If that were true then so would Ninevites. But the queen and the Ninevites have long been dead. Rather Jesus is personifying their outrage at the fact that Jesus and His miracles are not a good enough sign for this wicked generation.
Jesus is urgently trying to explain to His audience that His words about who He is and the promises of the Gospel should be enough for them to believe in Him. He has performed miracle after miracle and yet there are still those who are constantly looking for some kind of visible proof that Jesus is real and that God is real.
This generation has always been looking for a sign and some means to validate their beliefs. Their faith in Jesus was simply just not enough. Jesus then reminds them of what happened when Jonah came to preach the Gospel. They needed to understand that Jesus Christ is greater then Jonah and all that He has done and yet to do, surpasses any and all that Jonah had done to spread the Gospel.
When we walk by Faith, we do not need to look for some sort of miracle in order for Jesus to prove Himself. His word is sufficient and His Grace being poured out in your lives is enough. Up until this point, Jesus had done countless things to show them that what He is saying is true. There comes a point in which we have to allow for our faith to instill in us the foundation we need to keep relying on Jesus Christ.
Today we have the privilege of having God’s word speak to us each day and encourage us to strengthen our faith. His word is the one and only true source of life and giving us a look into God and who He is. It is there to give us a daily reminder on how we ought to life our lives and what faith in Him looks like. His word says that“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” His word keeps us in check, equips us for facing the unknown, and fuels us to keep on living.