A whale of a tale - 4 October 2018

Xanthe Hancox

Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, ‘Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.’ He answered, ‘A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.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.  Matthew 12:38-40

Even people who’ve never been to Sunday School know the story of Jonah and the ‘whale’. It’s one of those stories that ignites a lot of debate about whether we should take the Bible literally or see stories like Jonah’s simply as a metaphor. It’s easy to get sidetracked by arguments about the digestives tracts of sea mammals and miss the point entirely.

The Pharisees knew the story too, and like us, they missed the point. Our generation wants facts to prove that the Bible is what it says it is, and theirs looked for signs that Jesus was who he said he was.

In response, Jesus gives us answer that’s just as relevant to our generation as it was to the Pharisees’: “the sign of the prophet Jonah.” Jesus explained, “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.”

The point of Jonah is to point us to Jesus’s death and resurrection.

The fish vomited Jonah onto dry land, and the tomb burst open on Easter to show that Jesus conquered death. Because Jesus was raised to life, the deliverance given to Jonah is available to us, too.

It’s as important for us as it was for the Pharisees to read the signs that point to him as our Saviour and King. And God reveals those to us in his Word, the Bible, through the power of his Spirit.

Prayer: Lord, give us faith to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him we may have life in his name. Amen.

 

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