Posted by: The Simple Guy | January 21, 2015

The sign of Jonah

Matthew 12:36 (ESV) 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,

Matthew 12:37 (ESV) 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Matthew 12:38 (ESV) 38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.”

Matthew 12:39 (ESV) 39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.

Matthew 12:40 (ESV) 40 For just 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.

Matthew 12:41 (ESV) 41 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

We are getting ready to work through the book of Jonah in our fellowship.

I want to be a disciple of Christ. I want to read scripture as He sees it. So whenever I look at an Old Testament (or New Testament) passage, I try to start by determining what Jesus had to say on the topic.

In this case, Jesus preached a short sermon using Jonah. What was He saying? What lesson was He attempting to apply? What brought up the subject?

In the previous context Jesus has said this (earlier in the same chapter):

Matthew 12:7 (ESV) 7 And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.

This isn’t the first time Jesus quoted that text.

When Jesus called Matthew, the tax collector had a feast in his house in Jesus’ honor. He invited all of his unsavory friends. The religious elite asked Jesus’ disciples why Jesus ate with the undesirable sorts. Jesus had this to say:

Matthew 9:12 (ESV) 12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.

Matthew 9:13 (ESV) 13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

So he gave them an assignment in chapter 9, and in chapter 12 he grades their work. (F)

What was He quoting? This comes from the book of Hosea. Remember him? The prophet who was called by God to chose for himself an unfaithful wife. To endure her unfaithfulness, and to buy her back. To bring her back to the honored place of being his own bride.

Hosea was a picture of God. His wife Gomer was a picture of God’s people, the prostitute.

Why does Jesus eat with those types of people? Essentially, Jesus says to read Hosea to find out.

By now you are probably thinking I messed up in my title on this blog post, talking about Hosea instead of Jonah, but bear with me.

So after giving them a failing grade on them assignment to read Hosea, and after a little more back and forth, Jesus says “you will be judged by your words because what you say indicates who you are”. Immediately they demand a sign. (they want to judge Him for themselves).

This puts them in the position of judging Him instead of the other way around. What do their words indicate about who they are? This is rebellion or pride. The original sin.

Jesus calls them evil and adulterous. Because when we love anything more than God we are “cheating” or “selling ourselves” to another.

They love their own “chosen people” status more than they love God. Just like Jonah. How is that?

God made Jonah in His own image. Jonah was also one of God’s chosen people. Not only that, but he was a prophet, the very spokesman of God. This means Jonah represented God at least three ways.

God is merciful. He sent Jonah to Nineveh with a warning because of His mercy.

Jonah, the threefold representative of God, refused. When pursued by God he chose death before repentance. Only when death proved not to be an option did Jonah repent. Then he still was angry at God for being merciful.

Jonah needed mercy more than Nineveh because of his misrepresentation of God. His pride was in the way. Just like the religious elite Jesus was talking to. They were made in His image, they were God’s chosen people, and they had the positions of authority in their religious system. Jesus said they were adulterous and evil. He is comparing them to Gomer and then says they are like Jonah.

This needs to be in the back of my head as I study Jonah. Do I allow my place of privilege to compete for my affection for Him?

Am I like that? Do I forgive? Am I ready to show God’s mercy?

The Simple Guy

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