In these accounts from Luke and Matthew, we see the Pharisees testing Jesus’ last nerve with their demands that he give them some “sign” to prove to them that he is who he says he is. Signs? How many “signs” did they need? Their minds were closed, and consequently, they were blind to the Sign that was standing before their very eyes.

Jesus had performed dozens of miracles, exorcisms, and even raised the dead and still, they will not believe in him or the authenticity of his claims to be the Son of Man, the Son of God. What kind of signs did they need? Were they looking only for signs that fit their own ideas of who the Messiah would be and what he would do? Would they only accept a Messiah that would be a political figure who would redeem them from their great enemy occupiers, the Romans?

How many in our own times are just as blind to the signs? Today, there are many who don’t believe in God, or that they need a savior. They might argue that science is the power that will eventually save us. Signs? Who needs signs? On the other hand, how many among our fellow believers try to shape Jesus and his mission to fit their own human and earthly concepts? How many, like the Pharisees, turn him into some kind of political messiah to “baptize” their own political worldviews?

Jesus’ message to the scribes and Pharisees, and to our own times, is that no sign will be given to them, “except the sign of Jonah”. Why? Because they either have not or will not recognize the truth anyway. In their pride, in their superficiality, and in their self-importance they have become blind to the SIGN of their redemption standing before their very eyes.

Jonah was a “sign” to the inhabitants of Nineveh, that vast city so befouled by pride and sins of every kind. And because of his preaching, they repented. Even the pagan queen of the south saw in the wisdom of Solomon a “sign” of something greater than even Solomon in all his splendor and was humbled. Jesus looks directly into the eyes of the Pharisees (and looks into our own eyes today) and says “There is something greater than Jonah here…There is something greater than Solomon here.” Jesus is no mere sign.

As Christians we know that Jesus is with us and before us every day, not as a “sign,” but as the very meaning of life. He is the One who has come among us, the Messiah, the One who suffered and died for us on the cross, the One who has freed us from the slavery of sin and death, forever. Those who see, and believe, understand that to be a Christian is to be called by Christ to also be a sign, like Jonah, in the world today. We are to live and act as Jesus did, loving the Father with our whole heart, mind, and soul, and our neighbor as ourselves. In doing so, we may become actual, living signs of God’s love, mercy, and justice for the people we encounter in our daily lives.

We must have the courage of our faith in Jesus Christ to be the “signs” he calls us to be in this world that is so often darkened by the blindness of sin and pride. In this sense, we must be prepared to be ridiculed, even despised, just as Jesus was. But we must always respond as Jesus did, with mercy, love, and forgiveness. This is the sign the world still needs to see.

Lord, You are that “something greater than Jonah” that has come among us. Help us not only to see, but to believe. May our faith be a living faith, acted upon openly and joyfully in our daily lives. In all of this, your love and your grace are enough for us. We pray in your name, Jesus. Amen!

Subscribe to Faith HUB