In Matthew 12, after the Pharisees and the scribes exhausted their questioning in a negative way, they seemingly approached the Lord in a positive way asking Him for a sign.
Even though this was “a temptation”, the Lord took the opportunity to unveil something marvelous concerning Himself.
The Jews always seek for signs (1 Cor. 1:22), and religion in general boasts in signs and miracles. After all, a religion is only a social grouping unless there’s “something supernatural” in which they believe…
But the Lord Jesus gave only ONE SIGN – the sign of Jonah the prophet (Matt. 12:38-41). This sign is very important, deep, and loaded with meaning – it is a sign of the crucified and resurrected Christ.
Christ is the greater Jonah who was in the belly of the fish for 3 days and 3 nights (His death and burial), and He came out (in resurrection) to be a sign to all the world. He turned from the Jews to the gentiles and preached the gospel of peace to all the Gentiles to make them the people of God.
Lord, open our eyes to see this unique sign!
the sign of Jonah the prophet
Jonah was a prophet in the Old Testament time who was sent by God not to the Jews but to the Gentiles – to the city of Nineveh the capital of Assyria – that he may preach the gospel to them. God saw the wickedness of the people in that city, and He wanted to save them.
God sent Jonah to preach the gospel to them, but Jonah wouldn’t – he ran away from God! In this matter, Jonah is not a type of Christ – Christ was quite the opposite, He volunteered when God said, “Whom should I send? Who will go for us?” (Isa. 6:8)
Eventually Jonah ended up being swallowed by a great fish, and he spent three days and three nights in the belly of the fish. After this, he was spewed out by the fish on the dry land, and Jonah went to the city of Nineveh to speak the word of God to them.
After the prophet Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days, he came out to become a sign for that generation for repentance (Jonah 1:2, 17; 3:2-10). He went to Nineveh and, to his surprise, people believed his speaking and repented!
After His death and burial, Christ resurrected and became a sign to His generation, and people believed into Him and repented – especially the Gentiles – to become the people of God!
Christ is the real Jonah
Our Christ is the real Jonah – Jonah was only a type of Christ – as the One was in the heart of the earth for three days, and He came out of death to become a sign to His generation and to all the world.
Hades (also called Sheol in the Old Testament) has two sections: the section of torment and the section of comfort (also called Paradise) – according to Luke 16:23-26.
The Lord Jesus as the better, higher, and something more than Jonah was buried in the heart of the earth for three days and then He resurrected, becoming a sign for everyone for salvation! How about this for a sign, a miracle, which we preach to the others and we boast in!
preach this Christ – tell others about this sign!
Today we don’t need to use gimmicks or all kinds of worldly music to draw people to Christ – we simply need to see this sign, the sign of Jonah, and speak it to people!
We are here today to preach that there is One who went through death, entered into resurrection, and now He has the keys of death and Hades! He is the One that all the nations need!
We preach Christ as the real Jonah, the One who died and was buried and was raised to become a sign for the salvation of all the nations!
When we speak about Christ’s death, how He defeated death and took the keys of death and Hades, the demons will be cast out, people will be released, and all the prisoners of Satan will come out of prison! The crucified and resurrected Christ is the unique sign for this age, and we need to preach Him (1 Cor. 1:23)!
No matter how sinful, pitiful, or even religious and philosophical people are today, what they need is to see the sign of Jonah, and they will believe! The people of Nineveh repented and believed – the people today will repent and believe!
We need to ask the Lord to SHOW us the sign of Jonah – what Christ is and has done in His crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection – and we need to preach Christ as such a One!
Thank You Lord for giving us the sign of Jonah. You are the real Jonah who died and was in the heart of the earth for three days. But Hallelujah, You came out of Hades in resurrection to be a sign unto salvation to everyone who repents and believes! Lord, cause us to see this vision, this sign, and make us those who speak Christ and Him crucified! Lord, You are the One that all the nations desire and need!
References and Further Reading
- Sharing inspired from, Life-study of Matthew (msg. 34), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Crystallization-Study of the Minor Prophets, week 8 (entitled, The Greater Jonah).
- Buy this morning revival book online via Living Stream Ministry.
- Further reading: recommending chapter 3 of, Christ versus Religion (by Witness Lee);
- Hymns on this topic:
# Thou art like Jonah sent by God, / To enter death and live, / That by this sign of death and life, / We may in Thee believe.
# Lord! He’s the Lord of the Sabbath. / Jonah and Solomon — He’s the greater One.
# Drawn to the Cross which Thou hast blest, / With healing gifts for souls distrest, / To find in Thee my Life, my Rest, / Christ crucified, I come.
- Picture source: a great fish. Note: the Bible doesn’t say “a whale” – it just says “a great fish”, so this picture is only “a great fish in general”…
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