Gospel: Luke 11:29-32
As the crowd increased, Jesus spoke the following words: “People of the present time are troubled people. They ask for a sign, but no sign will be given to them except the sign of Jonah. As Jonah became a sign for the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be a sign for this generation. The Queen of the South will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and here, there is greater than Solomon. The people of Nineveh will rise up on Judgment Day with the people of these times and accuse them, for Jonah’s preaching made them turn from their sins, and here, there is greater than Jonah.
“No sign will be given to them except the sign of Jonah.”
The prophet Jonah delivered just about the lamest and most insincere prophetic utterance in scripture: “Forty days more and Nineveh will be destroyed.”This is a message he did not want to deliver precisely because he feared the people would repent, God would forgive them, and they would be spared the destruction Jonah thought they deserved. And that is exactly what happened. The people from king to servant all repented and put on sackcloth, and Jonah was furious. He is the epitome of an “angry prophet”—angry in this case at the mercy of God. Yet that is not what Jonah is remembered for. Instead, we recall that he was swallowed by a whale who carried him for three days toward the destination he had tried to avoid. And that, curiously, is the sign that Jesus offers to his gene- ration: the sign of Jonah.
It is doubtful that the crowd gathered around Jesus could make much of this cryptic prophecy—presumably a reference to the three days he would spend in the realm of death prior to his resurrection. But the prophet’s message—Repent, or face catastrophe—applies as much today as it did in Jesus’ time. Do we listen to the Jonahs in our midst?
© Copyright Bible Diary 2019