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h) The Sign of the Prophet Jonas
(Matthew 12:38-45)
38Then some of the scribes and “Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.”39But 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.40For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.41The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.42The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here. (Jonah2:1, Mark8:11-12, Luke11:29-32, Ephesians4:9,1Peter3:19)

The Jews demanded a sign from Christ, not out of trust and love, but with the aim of tempting Him that they might find an excuse of their unbelief in His divinity. Such are men; they do not want to believe, but to ask for arguments and material evidences for the existence of God. They do not attach importance to Christ, nor recognize the Holy Spirit. No one can prove to them the unity of the Holy Spirit because of their hard-heartedness. We too, do not believe with our minds first, but Christ’s love has inspired us with faith that is a gift of God. Faith requires the confident courage of our minds and the agreement of our hearts that we may overcome the doubts that are within us.
It is natural for proud men to lay down conditions to God, and then make that an excuse for not submitting to Him. Though Christ is always ready to hear and answer holy desires and prayers, He will not gratify corrupt lusts and devious thoughts. Those who ask with wrong motives, ask and have not (James 4:3).
God gave the critical unbelievers a supernatural sign that was beyond their human understanding and practical experiences, that was the great resurrection of the Crucified One, called here, “the sign of the prophet Jonah.” This was to bring conviction, and was intended to be the great sign of Christ’s being the Messiah. By the resurrection He was “declared to be the Son of God with power” (Romans 1:4). This was a sign that completed, crowned and surpassed all the rest. “If they will not believe” the former signs, they may believe this (Exodus 4:9), and if this will not convince them, nothing will. And yet he that does not believe this historical event is in darkness. Christ preached to His disciples, after His resurrection, the same message as Jonah, who after coming out of the whale’s belly called the people of Nineveh to repent. Christ’s appearances and words after His resurrection are the unanswerable proves of His divinity. Jesus, before His death, had predicated His great resurrection several times in front of His disciples and the people so that they might believe it when it happened.
Most of the Jews rejected Christ, though He spoke with a divine power. His merciful words could not find their way into their ears, and their hearts were hardened. How unlikely to the Ninevites who, regretfully, accepted the Word of God from the prophet Jonah and repented. Yet the Jews did not turn to their Lord though His Word became flesh and dwelt among them. Therefore their longing for the knowledge of truth came to an end. They believed that none except them could be versed in the Law of Moses, and that they were righteous and perfect.
The Bible reminds us that the Queen of Sheba came to wise Solomon from the distant parts of Arabia to hear God’s wisdom in the king. Yet the Jews that were close to Christ mockingly rejected God’s wisdom that revealed itself to them.
Now, what about you? Do you desire to hear the word of Christ? Do His great miracles and resurrection move you? Do you long for the dwelling of God’s wisdom in you? Or do you keep step with the Jews who hardened their hearts and clung to their self-righteousness? Are you of the wicked one? Or have you turned to the living Lord like the Ninevites who, upon hearing the call, repented with tears, believed in the Word of God, and were saved from His wrath?
Some claim, nowadays, that Christ did not remain three days and three nights in the grave as Jonah did in the whale’s belly. They conclude from the gospel according to John that Christ died on Friday afternoon and rose again on Sunday morning before sunrise.
This is a logical question, to which we answer as follows: It is not uncommon in language to consider part of a day as a whole day. For example: if you are asked how many days you were out of town, you may say three days even if you left town Monday night and returned Wednesday morning. In general, the Hebrew-calendar day begins at sunset, which is the start of the night hours; then continues into sunrise, which marks the start of the day hours. The elapsed time commonly attributed to Jesus’ burial was part of Friday daylight hours, Saturday night, Saturday daylight, and Sunday night. Part of a Hebrew-calendar day is reckoned as a full day. Part of a Hebrew-calendar day can also be expressed as one day and one night. Therefore, “three days and three nights” idiomatically does not present a contradiction of the elapsed time that Jesus was in the heart of the earth. The reference of day and night is used in 1 Samuel 30:12: “for he had eaten no bread nor drunk water for three days and three nights.” This duration, in fact, was not three full days but less, for he ate on the third day. In Esther we read: “Neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day” (Esther 4:16), then in 5:1 it is stated that, “it happened on the third day that Esther stood in the inner court of the king’s palace.” Though she found favor on this day, the time was said to be three days. We also read in 2 Chronicles 10:5, “Come back to me after three days,” then in v. 12 we read that the people came to Rehoboam on the third day. Even though a part of three days (and not three whole days) passed, the nation understood what he had directed. In Genesis 42:17-18 a small part of three days is reckoned as three days, for Joseph talked to his brothers at the end of the first day, then one day passed, and he talked to them on the next day, and this was reckoned as three days. If a man died half an hour before sunset, that day was reckoned as a whole day, even though the daytime had wholly passed and half an hour only had remained of it.

O Holy Father, please forgive us our affection for the spirits that oppose Your faithful Spirit. Give us true faith in Your Son, forgive us our hard-heartedness, and keep us interested in hearing Your gospel. Let us truly repent as soon as we hear Your call together with all the believers through Your glorious resurrection.
Who belongs to the wicked and adulterous generation?