The Sign of Jonah (Luke 11:29-32)

There were no television news reports, no videos to share on Facebook. There were no newspapers or radio communications. All that existed were word of mouth reports that spread slowly over time from village to village, from Galilee to Jerusalem.

Even so, more and more stories circulated about a preacher who performed occasional, incredible miracles. Oh yes … he was a pretty good teacher as well!  But, people coming out to see him, particularly for the first time, were especially hoping to see something extraordinary.

The religious leaders in the nation were increasingly annoyed by this distraction. The gospel writers all talk about how the leaders and the crowds were constantly asking for a sign – something extraordinary that was accomplished upon demand.

But the teaching should have been enough (though there was no shortage of the miraculous being witnessed by large numbers of people). We recently commented about how the leaders were going to attribute any sign or miraculous deed to being the power of the Evil One. And the peoples’ interests in miracles were more about their personal gains than about connection to the kingdom plan of God.

Today we see the irritation of Jesus come through as he considered the spiritual state of the nation…

Luke 11:29 – As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. 30 For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. 31 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom; and now something greater than Solomon is here. 32 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.

The only sign he says they are going to get is “the sign of Jonah.”  We recall the Old Testament prophet who went to Nineveh … well, he eventually got to that city after some days in the belly of the whale. Once there, he preached about the pending judgment of God, and the Gentile people believed and repented.

Likewise, another non-Jew, who was the Queen of Sheba (1 Kings 10), came from a great distance (likely 1200 miles away in what is modern Yeman) to see and meet Solomon. The amazing visit that featured the exchange of great wealth resulted in the Queen being convinced of the blessings of God upon Solomon.

These Gentiles who were removed from the history of the truth of God’s promises had more faith than the Jewish leaders and nation should have exhibited when hearing the words of Christ. They were physically present with something far greater, and that is the presence of the Kingdom in the person of Christ.

We are so often amazed at the lack of belief of Israel at the time of Christ. This should not have been, given all the blessings and advantages they had in their history and heritage. Though we don’t have the physical presence of Christ, we have for our day a tremendous resource in the completed word of God that reveals the completed work of Christ. So there is no excuse to not believe in the first place, and there is every reason to have great confidence for time and eternity in the truths of Scripture.