The Sign of Jonah

Matthew 12: 38-42
Mi 6: 1-4. 6-8 / Ps 50: 5-6, 8-9, 16-17, 21, 23

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

There is no need to look for signs,
Just look at 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)

Reflection

When the hard-hearted scribes and Pharisees insisted on seeing a sign from Jesus, it aptly recalls the prophesy of Simeon at the temple (see Luke 2:34-35) when he told Mary, the mother of the baby Jesus, “This child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed.” Jesus was the greatest sign that the Jews had ever seen since the time of King Solomon and the prophet Jonah. But the thoughts of the Pharisees and scribes revealed their evil nature when they plotted to kill Jesus, Whom they regarded as merely a man opposed to their established Judaic traditions and burdensome rituals.

Jesus identified Himself with the prophet Jonah, because both of them were ‘entombed’ for three days, and then rose again to bring conversion to non-Jews. But while the gentiles of Nineveh were converted and repented even without witnessing any miracles by Jonah, the Jewish leaders continued to ask Jesus for proof even though they had seen the wonders He had performed. Jesus also identified Himself with King 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 than Jonah and King Solomon.

The wisdom and power of Jesus to convert sinners and unbelievers were greater than the greatest prophets and kings of the Old Testament, and in fact even encompass all the ages of mankind’s history, as evidenced by the continuing relevance of His Word, the Holy Bible. Unlike His own generation, with whom He walked and talked, 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’ 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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