No Sign but Jonah

Read: Matthew 12:38-42

An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. (v. 39)

When I read this exchange between Jesus and the Pharisees, I’m at first surprised that Jesus turns down an opportunity to prove himself. However, throughout the Gospels, there are only two reasons Jesus ever does anything miraculous. One is his compassion for people. The other is to confirm the faith of people who direct it to him, like the woman with the flow of blood. She first touches Jesus out of her need and then is healed by her faith.

Today’s reading from Matthew shows us the one exception. Jesus directs the Pharisees to it. The sign of Jonah, Jesus tells them, was resurrection from the dead. Trapped for three days in the belly of a great fish, Jonah cried to God: “The waters closed in over me to take my life . . . yet you brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God” (Jonah 2:5-6). Jonah’s was a kind of resurrection, and it echoes Jesus’s resurrection.

The one miracle Jesus performed to prove himself was rising from the dead. The sign of Jonah is the beginning of the Gospels’ preparation for the climax of their story—the resurrection from the dead, the proof of Jesus’s identity. Are you looking for miracles as proof of God’s presence? Look to our resurrected Savior, in faith.

As you pray, thank God for the miracle of Jesus’s resurrection. Confess your faith in Jesus for the first time, or again.

About the Author

Fred Van Dyke is a conservation biologist dedicated to the care for God’s creation. In this role Fred has served government agencies, private consulting firms, and academic institutions doing research, management, and teaching in conservation science. He is also the author of two books on faith and environmental stewardship.

This entry is part 12 of 16 in the series The Miracles of Jesus