A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.Matthew 16:4
We have looked at the subject of signs and about Jonah before, so I will not go over those details once again. This time I would just like to focus on this sign that was given to the unbelieving Jews and their reaction to it. However, I will mention once again for my son’s sake (who bears his name), Jesus called Jonah a prophet!
Jonah was three days and three night in the belly of the whale (great fish), and so Jesus was three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. It can be proven by scripture that Jesus was in the tomb for 72 hours. I will not take the time to do that here but be assured that the tradition of Jesus dying on Friday and raising on Sunday is just that, a tradition of man. Jesus fulfilled this sign of Jonah exactly. This sign given to the unbelievers is the clearest evidence that Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God. When He raised from the dead, there was no denying that He had power over all things!
The unbelievers though attempted to explain it away and made up lies to cover up this miracle of all miracles. Jesus said during His earthly ministry that they would act this way. In His extended teaching about repentance (Luke 15-17), Jesus give the example of Lazarus and the rich man. The rich man is in hell and he asks for several things including to have Lazarus raise from the dead to testify to his family. Consider Jesus’ response:
And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.Luke 16:31
Jesus was not only referring to Lazarus raising from the dead, He spoke of His own resurrection. The law and prophets spoke of Jesus (John 5:29), and the Pharisees ignored it. The Old Testament also told of the resurrection of Christ (Isaiah 53 among others) and they ignored those as well. The fact is these men were dead in their sins. They had no faith given them in regeneration. Therefore, they could not believe, neither did they want to!
That is why Jesus called them a wicked and adulterous generation. Just like in His teaching in Luke 16, the wicked will not repent and believe even if when they are suffering torment in hell. The wicked will never repent.
That is why it is an error to threaten people with eternal damnation. You may scare a few sheep (elect) into obedience, but the goats (wicked) won’t repent even when they are in the condemned state and being tormented.
However, the elect have a brighter future and a sure hope. The sign of Jonah is a good one for them for it points to the fact that Jesus’ resurrection secures theirs as well.
“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, andbecome the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” – 1st Corinthians 15:19-23