Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Readings:
Psalm 90 
Isaiah 1:24-31

Luke 11:29-32
 
The Sign of Jonah
29 When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation; it asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. 30 For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be to this generation. 31 The queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here! 32 The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here!

Isn’t it amazing that the book of Jonah is in the part of the Bible we call the Old Testament, the Hebrew scriptures? I mean, just think about it. Jonah is called by God to go to his bitter enemy, the Ninevites, and preach from God that they are to repent. He first refuses, runs in the opposite direction, and jumps on a ship. As you know, he ends up in a “big fish” who develops a bad case of indigestion, vomits him out on the beach, and convinces him that maybe a revival in Nineveh is in order. Jonah preaches this revival message with bitterness and rancor, simply walking through and shouting, “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” Jonah is disgusted that the whole of the country repents in sackcloth and ashes and the Lord spares them from judgment. It seems as if God has no regard for our sense of who deserves God’s grace and forgiveness and who doesn’t.

In our Gospel lesson for today, from Luke, many people, including the religious leaders, are demanding a sign from Jesus if he is indeed the Messiah. This is right after that Jesus has healed a man, curing him from demon possession. I guess that sign didn’t impress enough, as they decided that Jesus was casting out the demon in the name of Beelzebul, another name for Satan. Jesus, frustrated at their lack of faith, tells them that they will only receive the “sign of Jonah.”

As it turns out, the sign of Jonah is three days in the darkness of the tomb of the belly of the fish. Jesus is pointing to the cross and resurrection, the three days Jesus was in the tomb of darkness. Jesus is pointing out that he is a greater prophet than Jonah, and look what the Ninevites did at his preaching!

It continues to be a great surprise to many people as to whom God chooses to offer his grace and forgiveness! 

Paul B. Thompson
Senior Pastor, Huntersville UMC
14005 Stumptown Rd.
Huntersville, NC 28078
(704) 875-1156
3910 North Highway 16
Denver, NC 28037