Sometimes, we can be oblivious to what is going on around us. Parents of children who become unusually engrossed in their activities (whether watching TV, playing a game, or even reading a book) know how to exploit this “blind spot” principle. In the same manner, when I forget something that my wife told me, I will often ask (jokingly), “Was I watching football when you told me?” That doesn’t get me off the hook, but it can lighten up a tense situation.
In many cases, overlooking a parent discussing our birthday gift, or needing to go out again to re-stock something for the pantry (because I didn’t do so on the way home from work), isn’t a big deal. Other signs, though, are pretty important. If we have a treatable illness, for instance, being able to diagnose the symptoms is important to determine what we need in order to get better. If we see the sky get dark, with flashes in the clouds, we should get under shelter (if we can) before the rain and lightning hit.
There are also signs related to even more important facts, like the nature of God and the state of the human condition. Let’s take a look at one of those, today.
Jesus was challenged (probably on multiple occasions) to perform signs for the people around Him. Some may have been genuinely seeking the truth, while others were probably just trying to trap Him.
Here’s part of the conversation from one of these situations:
One day some teachers of religious law and Pharisees came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, we want you to show us a miraculous sign to prove your authority.” But Jesus replied, “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.
“The people of Nineveh will stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, for they repented of their sins at the preaching of Jonah. Now someone greater than Jonah is here—but you refuse to repent.
Matthew 12:38-41 NLT
Although He didn’t have to prove anything1, since He was already fulfilling prophecies and literally is Truth, Jesus did provide one key sign here to those who wanted to entrap Him. Just as Jonah was in the great fish (Jonah 1:17), so Jesus’ body would be buried in a tomb (Luke 23:50-54). And, just like God caused the fish to toss Jonah onto the shore (Jonah 2:10), so God would raise Jesus – in a much more dignified manner – from the grave (Acts 2:32).
Here’s the next step, though: After Jonah had been saved from the sea, and from his temporary underwater prison, he preached an important message of repentance to the people of Nineveh (see Jonah 3). Jonah’s preaching resulted in their turning back from wickedness, and – by the mercy of God – receiving a reprieve from the destruction that was otherwise headed their way.
This is where the sign that Jesus gave is so important. Jesus’ death was a terrible thing. It was brutal and completely contrary to justice. However, the grave that He endured achieved salvation for all who will repent of their sins and follow Him. Just as Jonah shared a message of repentance in ancient times, Peter was led to preach a message of repentance to people in Jerusalem (see Acts 2:38-39), explaining how they could be saved from an even greater destruction, thanks to Jesus’ actions.
At our late hour of history, we have the knowledge of what happened to both Jonah and Jesus. We have all of the signs that we need in order to make a decision that will result in our soul being saved. There are two questions: 1) Will we will pay attention to them, and understand what Jesus’ fulfillment of prophecy means to our eternal destinies?, and 2) Will we do anything about it?
God gave us a sign, but the next steps are up to us. Will we – in obstinate resistance even greater than that of the wicked Ninevites – remain in our sin, despite the destruction that it brings to us? Or, will we listen to the warning that accompanies the sign, and repent? If you’re ready to take action based on this sign, or would like to learn more, please let me know via this site, or talk with a trusted follower of Jesus in your life. This sign is one that we should not ignore!