Daily Reading: Matthew 12
“…An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet;”
Our world is hungry to see and touch what appears to be real. It’s not just our generation or culture however. Throughout time man wants proof, that which is seen, to verify that which is unseen. In the time of Jesus, the religious leaders sought for proof that Jesus was who He said He was. Have you ever wondered why they felt right in asking? During one particular instance, Matthew 12, Jesus confronts their religious actions head on. Their response to Jesus is quite pointed, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” (Matt.12:38) What we don’t know, Jesus knew. Jesus knew their hearts, they had already failed to accept Jesus as Messiah, they were looking to disprove him. Jesus’ response is also quite pointed, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet;” (Matt. 12:39).
The book of Jonah was known well by the religious leaders. We often think of the Jonah narrative as just a Sunday school story about disobedience, and it has served many generations well as such, however there are greater themes in this short prophetic book than obedience and disobedience. The book of Jonah speaks of rebellion, God’s sovereignty, His mercy, grace and of course repentance. Matthew 12:40-41 demonstrate to us that Jesus was thinking of far more than Jonah’s disobedience; God used this as a type (or picture) of His death and resurrection. Certainly, Jesus was establishing prophecy for that which would shortly take place; namely that the Messiah would die and raise in three days. Verse 41 speaks the truth that this “adulterous generation” needed to hear. It was Israel that needed to repent at the sight of their Savior who was with them in the flesh. As with Jonah, God was ready to pour out mercy upon the world through the death and resurrection of Jesus. The key word to all of this – repentance!
Over the next two weeks, we are going to look at several themes in the book of Jonah. Each has application to us as followers of Jesus Christ. Let us ask the Lord together how what applications and principles He would like us to learn. We might be tempted to look at Jonah and laugh, or cry as we relate situations in our own life to his. As you start to read the book, chapter by chapter, try and place yourself in Jonah’s mindset. The time frame is 760BC, and the Assyrian empire is “conquering the world.” Joppa, the place of Jonah’s departure is a few miles northwest of Jerusalem; Tarshish on the southwest coast of modern Spain. This is a tremendous distance to sail. Nineveh is northeast of Jerusalem, well inside the Assyrian empire. This detail helps us get a broader perspective of how far he was trying to run! Use your study Bible and learn a little more before we get started.
A humble heart is a great place to start. Together, let’s pray today for humility of mind and heart as we study this prophet, Jonah.