Wednesday, April 26, 2017
“Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, ‘Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.’ 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. For just as Jonah was for 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. The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgement with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here! The queen of the South will rise up at the judgement 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)
This week at the Lord’s Table, our Gospel reading comes from Matthew 12, verses 38-42 where Jesus had once again faithfully prophesied his own resurrection from the dead. Now as miraculous as that is, the Jewish people were no strangers to miracles, signs, and wonders. In fact, Jesus reminds them about the sign of the prophet Jonah. Many of us know the story. A reluctant preacher is called by God to declare God’s offer of mercy to a people that Jonah himself couldn’t stand to think of human.
It would be like God asking an 1800 Black pastor to march into an all-White town of slave owners and preach about how much Jesus loves every racist soul. It would be true, it would be right, but it would be difficult and it would be deadly. Both Jonah and Jesus faced the same difficult and deadly choices. And while Jonah had his temper tantrum and even Jesus experienced a moment of human weakness in the Garden of Gethsemane, both Jonah and Jesus obediently pronounced the divine judgement and proclaimed the saving grace of loving God.
Now in the case of Jonah, it took three days in the belly of a whale for him to make up his mind to stop disobeying the word of God. What’s it going to take for us? Does God have to use a washed-up preacher on the run from his calling to get us to repent? Something greater has happened here. Does God have to raise up a little snot-nosed kid to become the wisest man the world has ever known to get us to pay attention? Something greater has happened here!
Solomon might have been a great teacher, and Jonah might have been a great preacher, but Jesus didn’t just swim in from the seashore, Jesus rose from the dead! Something greater has happened here! As you begin your small group discussion today, remember we have a choice whether to live in sin and shame or to live like we serve a risen Savior but for those of us who are in Christ, God has something greater!
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.