The Sign of Jonah

One of the themes we encounter in all four gospels is Israel’s unbelief and rejection of Jesus. John signaled this right from the start, “He came to His own people, and His own people did not receive Him.” (John 1:11) We have already come to a point in our study of Matthew where it seems Israel crossed a line. They called Jesus a glutton and a drunkard (11:19), claimed He was in league with the devil (12:28), and began to plot His death (12:14).
In the passage before us today, the unbelieving Pharisees requested that Jesus perform a sign (Mat 12:38-50). Their request did not show a willingness to consider further His claims and perhaps believe in Him, but was indicative of their evil intentions. “But He answered and said to them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.’” (12:39)
Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, and Jesus, following His crucifixion, spent three days and three nights in the tomb. The sign of Jesus’ resurrection is the greatest of all signs, and provided proof that Jesus of Nazareth was and is the Messiah. So, what did Israel’s leaders do with the sign they requested? They denied it happened and claimed that Jesus’ disciples came in the night and stole His body in order to deceive the people (Mat 27:62-64, 28:11-15).
Those entrenched in unbelief will remain in it no matter what the evidence. Jesus’ statement at the end of the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus is telling! “But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’” (Luke 16:31)
If you believe in Jesus, thank God for your faith! If not, may the Lord help you believe.