Scripture Reading: Jonah 1:17; Matthew 12:38-41
“For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:40)
We cannot move on in our study of Jonah without first dealing with the redemptive-historical significance of the story. In an encounter with the religious leaders of His day, Jesus referred back to Jonah 1:17 — “And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the risk for three days and three nights” (Jonah 1:17).
The context of Jesus’ words is found in Matthew 12:38,39 — “Then some of the Scribes and Pharisees answered Him saying, ‘Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.’ But He answered them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.”
The religious leaders rejected the claims of Christ. They wanted to trap Him and find fault with Him. They did not like His teachings and thus they asked Him to perform a miracle to prove His claims. But Jesus refused to do so. He warned them that their rejection of Him would one day bring judgment upon them — “The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here” (Matthew 12:41).
At the heart of Jesus’ answer to the religious leaders is a beautiful reminder of the significance of the resurrection. Just as Jonah was swallowed up into the belly of the fish, so Jesus must be swallowed up into the tomb. What we see in the story of Jonah is a type of what the Messiah would do. Jesus Christ died and was buried in a tomb. But on the third day, He victoriously came out of the grave. Jesus said that His deliverance from the grave was the the sign of the prophet Jonah. No other sign is necessary. Christ’s resurrection from the dead is proof positive that He was indeed the promised Messiah and that all He said could be trusted fully.
Lord Jesus, as we approach Easter, may we be reminded of the sign of the prophet Jonah. You were swallowed up into the tomb, but You arose and came out victoriously. Thank You for the work You did on my behalf. Thank You for saving me and bringing me into Your eternal kingdom.
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