The Sign of Jonah
One day some teachers of religious law and Pharisees came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, we want you to show us a miraculous sign to prove your authority.”
But Jesus replied, “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.
“The people of Nineveh will stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for they repented of their sins at the preaching of Jonah. Now someone greater than Jonah is here—but you refuse to repent. The queen of Sheba will also stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for she came from a distant land to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Now someone greater than Solomon is here—but you refuse to listen.
“When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, seeking rest but finding none. Then it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ So it returns and finds its former home empty, swept, and in order. Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before. That will be the experience of this evil generation.”
The True Family of Jesus
As Jesus was speaking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, and they want to speak to you.”
Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!”
Matthew 12:38-50 NLT
Today we see the Pharisees asking Jesus to perform another miraculous sign as further proof Jesus is the Messiah. It was nothing more than a tactic to get Jesus to surrender to them, it was certainly not because they intended to change their hearts. These men have been following Jesus since the beginning and they had heard enough and seen enough miracles to prove he was more than just a miraculous healer yet they still would not change their hardened hearts.
Uh-oh…, as I typed these words above, I can’t help but ask myself: How many times have you, Cecilia, asked Jesus for proof when asking for a specific outcome in your prayers? Was my underlying desire for Jesus to perform a miracle or show me his majesty by doing as I asked? This certainly is a convicting moment for me and it may be for you as well!
Of course Jesus can do anything to prove he is who he says he is, but what we must also remember is Jesus is not our magic genie to perform as we want! Yes, it is absolutely okay for us to ask for a specific outcome but we must be prepared to surrender our will to his will. Jesus gives us a perfect example of this when he is struggling with fulfilling the will of God hours before he is captured and crucified:
“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Luke 22:42
I love it when Jesus displays his human side so we can relate to him rather than believe he is so far above us he can’t possibly understand what troubles we encounter.
Instead of performing another miracle, Jesus reminds the teachers and Pharisees about the story of Jonah, a story that would have been told to them as children. (If you haven’t read this story, you can read it in the book of Jonah in the Old Testament of the Bible.)
Jonah was a prophet sent by God to the Assyrian city of Nineveh. Because they were a cruel people, Jonah tried to run from his assignment and ended up spending three days in the belly of a huge fish. When Jonah was belched out of the fish he grudgingly went to Nineveh, preached God’s message, and the entire city repented. By contract when Jesus came to his people (the Jews), many refused to repent.
The reference to the Queen of the South (Queen of Sheba) is from 1 Kings 10:1-10. She visited King Solomon, king of Israel, to learn about his great wisdom. As Gentiles they recognized the truth about God when it was presented to them. Jesus points out that he, is greater than Solomon yet the religious leaders ignored this truth.
Although Jesus was describing the attitude of the nation of Israel and the religious leaders, it begs a question that might make us feel uncomfortable. How have we responded to the truth and evidence of Jesus Christ? Do we believe like the Ninevites and the Queen of Sheba, or are we more like the religious leaders always looking for another miracle or refusing to believe Jesus is who he say he is? Worse, have we actually gotten comfortable with our sinful way of life, or to put it another way, gotten comfortable with our demons? Jesus expands on that in the next set of verses:
“When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, seeking rest but finding none. Then it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ So it returns and finds its former home empty, swept, and in order. Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before. That will be the experience of this evil generation.” Matthew 12:43-45
Jesus cautions us just cleaning up one’s life without filling it with God leaves plenty of room for Satan to come back in. The first step is absolutely ridding our lives of sin, but being “good” isn’t enough to keep us out of the hands of torment from Satan. We must fill our lives with God’s Word, the Bible, to act as a shield of protection (Ephesians 6:10-19). Unfilled or complacent people are easy targets for Satan.
Jesus ends his lesson with a description of who belongs in the true family of God. He was not denying his earthly family, he was just showing that when we surrender our lives to Jesus we become a new creation and we are adopted into the family of God. He was showing that our spiritual relationships are just as binding and important as our earthly relationships. For a woman who was raised without a loving father, this gives me pure joy to know that God himself is my Abba Father! I praise God for that!
Closing Prayer: Father God, what a joy it was the day I realized I was never a child with no father, because you Abba, were always with me. It gave me pure joy to say, my Father is the King above all kings! With this exciting revelation comes the reminder that as your daughter I have big responsibilities. Father I pray I do not shirk my duty but stay close to you in the Word and in my prayers, so that I may accomplish all that you have set aside for me to do. There are also some hard reminders today to be on my guard again the evil one who would love to take me down by reminding of me of my sins. However (the word we love!), when Jesus forgave me for my sins, he also redeemed me and reminded me that my sins are fully forgiven! Hallelujah! I thank you Lord for these words that teach me to beware of the evil one’s attempts to keep me imprisoned in my past mistakes, but because of Jesus, I am free from that nonsense! Thank you Jesus! Amen!!