Summary: He doesn't mess around with their bad attitudes or get DISTRACTED from the essentials. He leads them to the GREATEST MIRACLE OF ALL.
Part 14 - Matthew 12:38-41 - THE GREATEST MIRACLE OF ALL!
A few days ago, my good friend Joe (not his real name) was taken into hospital after the antibiotics that he was taking didn't appear to be making a discernable difference. He deteriorated quickly and after a few days he was just a skeleton lying in bed, fighting for each breath.
I drove to work on Thursday still pleading to the Lord for a MIRACLE of healing but Joe had died around 2 am that morning, Thursday 5 November, 2010 at only 91 years of age. I know that seems OLD to you, but he wasn't. Good mates are AGELESS. He was someone I loved, a man with a deep faith, a good friend. Heaven rejoices and I am happy for him too but there is an empty space inside which tugs at my heart because I will miss him. Where was my miracle?
When the Pharisees challenge Jesus to show them a sign in Matthew 12:39-40 (NLT) it is NOT in order to see someone they LOVE HEALED, or to see people they CARE ABOUT RESTORED. They want theatrics, a circus show, for Jesus to jump through a hoop at their bidding. They have NO COMPASSION for the healing of a demonised blind man who has been unable to speak and NO CONCERN for the man with a deformed hand who was totally restored. They want DEATH to their enemies - a bolt of lightning to DESTROY the Roman oppressors or at the very least someone to lead an UPRISING. Where was their miracle?
Jesus sees right through them. He says "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."
What on earth has JONAH got to do with the Pharisees asking for a sign, or for that matter Joe? Well Jesus goes on to explain, "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." His powerful words in Matthew 12:41(NLT) still ring in my ears - "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."
The Pharisees want a SIGN, a miracle, to prove that Jesus is from God. Jesus seems to be saying "You have all the signs you need in the Old Testament Scriptures already and they all lead to Me!" He doesn't mess around with their bad attitudes or get DISTRACTED from the essentials. He leads them to the GREATEST MIRACLE OF ALL.
When I think of the story of Jonah I think of the miracle of him being SWALLOWED by a fish and surviving for 3 days and nights. And since that is a picture of the RESURRECTION of Jesus, I want to get into working out the details of how these 3 days and nights fit in with when Jesus' died. How was it 3 days AND 3 nights?
But it seems to me I can miss the forest for the trees if I'm not careful. The MATHEMATICS of the resurrection is not the REAL EMPHASIS of this passage. Jonah's resurrection from the fish was a great sign, but the GREATEST MIRACLE however, according to Jesus, is the MIRACLE OF REPENTANCE AND FORGIVENESS! A whole generation of Ninevites REPENTED because of Jonah's message. That's the intention of God. To see people FORGIVEN AND RESTORED to Him! Jesus on the other hand is faced with people who "REFUSE to repent" (Matthew 12:41).
My friend Joe knew THE GREATEST MIRACLE OF ALL. He knew the forgiveness that comes from believing in Christ as Lord and Saviour. He leaves a LEGACY OF FAITH. His legacy is a family who has come to love and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jonah says "I knew that you are a MERCIFUL AND COMPASSIONATE GOD, SLOW TO GET ANGRY AND FILLED WITH UNFAILING LOVE. You are eager to turn back from destroying people."
God hasn't changed. 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) says "The Lord ...does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent." He loves us as we are but loves us to much to leave us that way. He wants us to respond to Him, to trust in Christ, to experience THE GREATEST MIRACLE OF ALL - FORGIVENESS and a life changed forever. God bless you Church as you participate in the MIRACLE OF REPENTANCE.