Summary: The nature and importance of the sign of Jonah and its meaning to the modern Christian.

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The Sign of Jonah Matt. 12:38-40

INTRO.: The Jewish leaders confronted Jesus demanding “a sign.” by this they meant some miraculous event attesting to the truth of what He said. This is not the first such request. Jesus had already performed miracles. He had, for instance, healed a man’s withered hand and cured a blind and mute man. But His critics wanted to see more.

They wanted proof He was the Messiah, the savior of their nation, who would muster an army and free them from roman oppression. They wanted to see something like what Moses had done before Pharaoh or like Joshua had done at Jericho.

Jesus responded by telling them the only sign they can expect is a death and burial followed by a resurrection. He has not come to conquer the land like Joshua, but to call the people to repentance like Jonah.

I. Just what is the sign of Jonah?

A. Consider what happened to Jonah:

1. He was as good as dead because of his disobedience.

2. From within the fish, he cried out to God. Jonah 2:2-4

3. He was buried and felt God-forsaken. He felt God had banished him from His Presence.

B. Compare what happened to Jesus:

1. He was as good as dead and also because of disobedience, ours not His own.

2. He too cried out to God, feeling a sense of abandonment. Matt. 27:46-50.

3. From subsequent events, we know neither Jonah nor Jesus was abandoned by God.

C. How the people were effected:

1. The people of Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah after Jonah’s resurrection. Matt. 12:41

2. The first time people heard the story of Jesus’ resurrection, 3000 repented and were baptized. Acts 2:41

3. The sign of Jonah consists of his resurrection from the fish’s belly and corresponds to the resurrection of Jesus from the grave.

II. What is the importance of the sign of Jonah, the resurrection?

A. In Jonah’s case:

1. It was the means and power of his salvation. If God had allowed Jonah to flee to Tarshish, Jonah would no doubt have been eternally condemned.

2. It was also the power of Nineveh’s conversion. Jonah was a reluctant preacher with a bad attitude who preached a negative message to a hostile audience, yet he was eminently successful.

3. The death and resurrection of Jonah took him to Nineveh and no doubt the story of these events gave power to his message.

B. In Jesus’ case:

1. Obviously, it meant new life for Him.

2. It also meant new life for His disciples. Never again did they doubt His Presence or direction.

3. The message of the resurrection became the core of their preaching.

4. People of their day were convicted because of the preaching of the resurrection.

5. Through the centuries, millions have been brought to God and salvation through the preaching of the resurrection.

III. What does all this mean to us in the 21st century?

A. Jesus is truly God’s Son. Rom. 1:4

1. This means all His claims are true and we can believe all He says.

2. He is with us, even when we feel God-forsaken.

3. He has the power to impart new life to His followers.

B. There is power in the resurrection to save:

1. Baptism saves us by the resurrection of Jesus. I Pet. 3:20-22

2. Those who share in His death through faith and repentance also share in His resurrection. Rom. 6:3-5

3. Having the promise of resurrection and eternal life means nothing we do for God is in vain. I Cor. 15:58

C. God hates sin and death and wants everyone to come to Him for forgiveness and life. Matt. 28:19, 20

1. Jonah preached to a heathen nation, foreshadowing the missionary imperative of Jesus.

2. The little book of Jonah tells us the Gospel is for everyone in the world.

3. It is the task of the Church of Jesus to carry that message.

CONC.: Review. The sign of Jonah is the resurrection from the dead. The resurrection of Jonah from the sea corresponds to the resurrection of Jesus from the grave and to our resurrection from the watery grave of baptism.

We rest upon faith in the power of Jesus to raise the dead as we look forward to the final resurrection of our bodies.


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