Greater than Jonah

greater than Jonah

Quite the fish story

In Part One of the series, we grappled with the greatness of the Temple: what it meant to the Israelites and the consequences and significance of Jesus’ statement of being “Greater than the Temple“.  Jonah preached the the greatest revival message in history. Over one million people came to faith in the God of Abraham on that day. Now Jesus tells them that one “greater than Jonah” is here.

The Sign of Jonah

38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.”

39 He answered, A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 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 something greater than Jonah is here…

The Temple was the place where Jews communed with God. As we said in Part 1, it was the center of the universe for religious Jews and for good reason: it could be seen for miles in the desert sun, adorned in gold and precious stones it was a sight to behold. But now the people, and the Pharisees and Scribes in particular, ask Jesus for a sign. Having listened attentively for quite some time and not having been able to cause Him to stumble, they want Him to prove Himself. What more powerful sign could He offer them outside of doing what Jonah did: come back from the dead!

Time me!

Jesus even gives them the timetable: three days.  In chapters 16 and 22 of Psalms, David talks about how the Messiah would die and be resurrected. He explains how His body would not know decay and be resurrected from the dead. In Hosea 6:1-2, the prophet teaches us that:

“for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.”

Greater than Jonah

This handful of verses would have been well-known to the Scribes and Pharisees. Jesus is explicitly telling the “wise” that He is the Messiah of Scripture. But, being the master storyteller that He is, Jesus goes a step further and adds insult to injury. He compares them to the Ninevites. However, and this is the insult, unlike the Ninevites that repented at the preaching of Jonah, they turn deaf ears to Jesus’ teachings. In fact, these Pharisees must be running up quite a seamstress bill. Jesus caused them insult with every word He spoke. Offended beyond repair. Consequently, so were their garments.

Jesus so far has told them that He is greater than the Temple: where they commune with God; and greater than Jonah: who came back from the dead after three days and brought a message of repentance to a rebellious people, who were not Jews, and they repented. What will He use next, in his trifecta of examples? Their most revered elder: Solomon!

Author: Life More Abundant

Bondservant to Jesus, Married to Michele, Dad to Madelyn, Claudia, and Joseph and educator by trade. Antonio loves to read, write, and discuss all-things-apologetics. He has many passions in life including reaching, teaching, and keeping men for Jesus Christ. Waiting on God’s big reveal: Antonio knows He has something beautiful in mind.