As the crowds increased, Jesus said, "This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.
At this point in Jesus’ ministry, there are large crowds (Luke 11:29) coming to see Jesus because word is out that He is healing people of their diseases and casting out demons from those who are possessed. As the crowds build Jesus discerns their motives for coming and says to them, "This is a wicked generation. It asks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah." Rather than listening closely to Jesus' message the crowds were following Jesus for the show. They wanted to see Him do the miraculous things He had become known for. They were completely missing the point. Jesus was calling them to repent of their self-indulgent lives and devote themselves to loving God and loving others as much as they love themselves (Prior post on Luke 10:25-27).
He goes on to describe the sign of Jonah saying that Jonah preached God's word to the Ninevites and they responded, not to miraculous signs, but simply to the message Jonah shared with them. We are not given many details about Jonah's message except that He told the Ninevites they had 40 days before destruction would come (Jonah 3:4). To even Jonah's surprise Nineveh repented of their evil ways (Jonah 3:10), from the citizens to the king. As a result of their response to the message, God had compassion on them (Jonah 3:10).
Are we like the Ninevites who responded to Jonah's message or are we like the crowds looking for a sign from Jesus? I'll be honest, often times I am like the crowd looking for a sign. My wife and I moved to Clearwater a little over a year ago from Boston because God led us to move here to start a Christian church. This fall we began meeting on Sunday nights. They are very small meetings right now and I find myself wanting God to bring more people to confirm we are doing the right thing. The truth is that I know we are doing the right thing because God led us to take this step, that was His message to us. I cannot only look for signs; I have to trust the message.
The same is true with placing our faith in Jesus' message. Romans 10:17 says, "consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ." Faith does not come from seeing a sign, it comes believing the message. Jesus’ message is simple: Eternal life comes from fulfilling the law by loving God and loving our neighbors as we love ourselves (Luke 10:25-27). The problem is we can't do it. We are broken. We don't always love God. We don't love our neighbors all the time. The amazing thing is that Jesus knows this about us and it is precisely why He came to earth. He came to reconcile us to God by sacrificing Himself on the cross on our behalf (II Corinthians 5:17-21). God is still doing signs among us if we will open our eyes, but more importantly we must open our ears to the message which was spoken through Christ.
Thank you for reading my blog, we will be talking about this text at Restoration Church in our Sunday night service at 5 p.m. on Jan. 27. We meet every Sunday night at The Sage. We also have a weekly Bible study on Wednesday nights. If you would like more information, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.