Greater than Jonah and Solomon

Matthew 12:38-42
Ex 14:5-18 / Ex 15

An evil and unfaithful generation seeks for a sign.
(Matthew 12:39)

There is no need to look for signs,
Just behold the cross on the wall.
His pain and death clearly defines
Christ’s obedience to save us all.

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and unfaithful generation seeks for a sign; but no sign shall be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. The men of Nineveh will arise at the judgment day with this generation and condemn it; because they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and there is something greater than Jonah here. The queen of the South will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and there is something greater than Solomon here.” (Matthew 12:38-42)


Let us reflect on today’s Gospel verses in the context of the preceding passages in chapter 12 of Matthew’s account. Earlier, the Pharisees had taken issue with Jesus on the violation of the Sabbath by Jesus’ disciples picking heads of grain to eat and His healing of a man with a withered hand. For these they had plotted to kill Him! Later, when Jesus healed a blind and mute demoniac, the astounded crowd asked, “Could this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “This man drives out demons by the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons” (Mt.12:22-25). Which prompted Jesus to say, “Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven” (12:31). Clearly, these Jewish religious leaders had chosen to be doomed for their grievous sin and unrepentant hearts.

After all the miracles that Jesus had performed in their midst, the Pharisees and scribes still had the gall to ask our Lord for a sign to prove that He was the Messiah. Jesus’ answer that no sign would be given them except the sign of Jonah underscored two things. First, their grievous sin of blasphemy and lack of faith in Him prevented them from recognizing Him as the greatest Sign from God. Secondly, as Jonah stayed 3 days in the belly of the whale, Jesus’ stay in the tomb and subsequent Resurrection would set apart the new generation of God’s Chosen People (the Christians) from the old (the Jews). Like the natives of Nineveh, conversion of the gentile world would happen even without witnessing the miracles of Jesus.

Jesus also identified Himself with Solomon, because the latter was the son and successor of King David, and Jesus was likewise addressed as ‘Son of David’ (Mt.9:27,12:23). Both of them displayed extraordinary wisdom, but while Solomon’s human wisdom won over the gentile Queen of Sheba, Jesus’ divine wisdom was rejected by the leaders of God’s Chosen People. And Jesus was far greater and wiser than King Solomon.

No proof or miracle will ever suffice for people who are not disposed to believe the truth. And none is necessary for those who have faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Unlike His own generation, with whom He walked and talked, we, the billions of Christians all over the world today do not need any sign to believe in Him. His Word is enough for us, and our life conversions stand as testimonies (not signs) of Jesus’ love and saving power in our lives.

Dear God, You have brought about our conversion through the power of faith in Your Word, and the evidence of Your love in Jesus Christ, our Savior. Let Your indwelling Spirit sustain our hope so that we may not be discouraged like the prophet Jonah, or be unfaithful like King Solomon in spite of his wisdom. Only by Your grace can we persevere. Amen.

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