Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” 39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days and three nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth. 41 The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here! 42 The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here!-Matthew 12:38-42 NRSV
Demand For A Sign
The Gospel passage above gives us insight into the minds of the Pharisees. A lot has happened in the first twelve chapters of Matthew. Jesus has healed people, he gives the beatitudes, and he performed many other miracles. Yet the Pharisees demand proof of his identity.
Not much has really changed. Many today still ask for the same sign even though they proclaim belief. In response to the Pharisees, Jesus gives a very simple and yet profound answer.
Jesus and Jonah
Jesus tells the Pharisees that the only sign he will give is the sign of Jonah. We all heard the story. God wanted the prophet Jonah to go to Nineveh with a message of God to repent. Jonah refused and was swallowed by a whale for three days.
Contrary to what some of the stories we heard in our youth, Jonah was not living inside the whale. No he was dead and three days later he was spit out on the beach revived.
This event from the life of Jonah prefigures the resurrection of Jesus. Here Jesus is telling the Pharisees that he will give them a sign. He will resurrect after being in the belly of the earth for three days. This event was attested to throughout history.
St. Paul in 1 Corinthians challenges those who don’t believe it to go and talk with the people who saw. The disciples died for what they saw and Christianity spread throughout the world like wildfire. It spread even though there was, and is still, much persecution.
Sometimes it is hard to remain positive and vibrant in our faith. Trust me I know. Especially in the current circumstances that we are living in. However the same Christ that died on the cross and rose from the grave is the same Jesus we profess today. Jesus gave the ultimate sign of who he is on that first Easter morning. May we remember this awesome event everyday. Take solace in the promise of Jesus to never leave us nor forsake us.
“To love God is something greater than to know Him.” ~ Thomas Aquinas
“It is not hard to obey when we love the one whom we obey.” ~ Ignatius of Loyola
“Christ has made my soul beautiful with the jewels of grace and virtue. I belong to Him Whom the Angels serve.” ~ Agnes of Rome