THE JONAH SIGN
Matthew 16:1-4: The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus to test Him by asking Him to show them a sign from heaven. He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ’It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’, and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Then He left them and went away.
Jesus had yet another exchange with the Pharisees. For the umpteenth time they were on His case about signs, not because they wanted to believe in Him but because they were looking for reasons not to believe in Him.
His response was abrupt, as though He had had enough of their nonsense. “You guys know how to read the weather,” He said, “but you have no clue how to read the signs of the times. The only sign you’ll get is the Jonah-sign.” with that He turned on His heel and walked away.”
What is the Jonah-sign?
I used to think that the Jonah-sign was the resurrection of Jesus. Just as Jonah was the fish’s belly for three days and three nights, so Jesus came back from the dead after three days. But I asked myself, “What was the point of that?”
I have since come to believe that the Jonah-sign was the mercy of God. God caused Jonah to be flung into the sea and swallowed by the fish because He really wanted Jonah to go to Nineveh to deliver His message. He could have wiped Jonah out for his disobedience.
Why did God give the people of Nineveh forty days before He rained down judgment on the city? Was it not because He was giving them time to repent? The fact that He forgave them when they repented is proof of God’s mercy.
Jonah had issues with God because of His mercy. He sulked because he did not want God to show mercy to the Ninevites. After all, weren’t they the enemies of God’s people who attacked and destroyed their country?
O yes, God is merciful to all, whether we like it or not.
In the same way, God reveals His mercy to us because He sent Jesus to die and to rise from the dead so that we can be forgiven and set free from our sins to live a new life. We do not deserve what God did through Jesus. We deserve to be wiped out just as Jonah and the Ninevites did, but God wanted to rescue us from the results of our folly and give us a new identity and a new life with Him.
How great is our God! How great is His mercy!
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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