THE GREATER THAN JONAH
"The men of Nineveh will rise in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here" (Matthew 12:41, NKJV).
The portrait of Christ as One greater than Jonah emerged when certain scribes and Pharisees demanded a sign that would authenticate His claim as the Messiah. In response, Jesus cited the story of Jonah and then declared of Himself, "Indeed, a greater than Jonah is here."
The setting of this demand for a sign was Jesus' miraculous healing of a demon-possessed man (see Matthew 12:22, 23). Demanding a sign in the face of this remarkable miracle implied that it was not really a miracle. Jesus responded that the Pharisees had no right to demand a sign and that if one were given, they would not accept it. Jesus also reminded them that Jonah himself was God's sign to the city of Nineveh. Jonah had given no signs, and the people had demanded none. The Ninevites repented and turned to God in spite of the absence of a miracle. By contrast, the Jewish leaders obdurately rejected the One who was greater than Jonah.
How was Jesus greater than Jonah? Jonah sulked because a city had repented (see Jonah 4:5); Jesus wept because a city would not repent (see Luke 19:41). Jonah performed no miracles; Jesus Christ was Himself the miracle of the ages. His incarnation, His sinless life, His resurrection--were all miracles, Jesus of Nazareth transcends Jonah and all other men. "In His teaching Christ referred to Jonah... His message humbled the nation at that time the mightiest in the earth. The proclamation of their destruction caused them to repent in great humiliation, and their doom was averted... This experience the Jews kept ever in remembrance. But said Christ, 'A greater than Jonas is here.' "--Signs of the Times, January 27, 1898.
My Prayer Today: Lord, I claim You as my incomparable Saviour. You are truly the greatest. Amen.