Greater than Jonah

After rebuking the scribes and Pharisees for seeking some sign to authenticate Jesus’ authority, He refers them to the greatest “proof” of His person and work: His resurrection from the dead (12:40). Then Jesus both compares and contrasts Himself with the prophet Jonah: He is like Jonah in that He startled everyone by appearing alive after being presumed dead. Jonah came out of the belly of the great fish, and Jesus came out of His tomb. Jonah had preached a message of repentance to the people of the great pagan city of Nineveh, in Assyria. Jesus, likewise, began His ministry with a command to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). On the other hand, Jesus is unlike Jonah: - The Old Testament prophet was the son of Amittai (Jonah 1:1). Jesus called Himself “Son of Man,” referring not only to His human nature, which was like ours in every respect but sin (Hebrews 2:14; 4:15), but also to His divine nature, foretold by the great prophecy in Daniel 7:13-14). - Jonah didn’t really die, but was preserved alive in the stomach of the great fish. Jesus was truly killed on the cross. When He emerged from the tomb, it was a real resurrection from death (Matthew 16:21). - Jonah preached repentance to people of a limited locale, and the change in the Ninevites proved to be temporary, for their nation later turned and attacked both Israel and Judah. Jesus commanded his disciples to preach a message of “repentance and remission of sins in His name to all nations” (Luke 24:47). Their obedience produced a church in Nineveh itself that took the Good News even to China in the 7th century A.D. Though greatly reduced, the Syrian church remains to this day. Shall we not worship and obey this “greater than Jonah” Son of Man today?