The Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 16:1-4; Mark 8:11-13

The Sign of Jonah

Today’s is a short passage from Matthew and Mark, with a somewhat obscure reference to the prophet Jonah.  It provides a glimpse into the duplicity of human hearts, Jesus’ call for sincerity, and what our Lord considered his greatest sign of all.

The Pharisees come to Jesus arguing with him and demanding a sign.  Perhaps you have been in a similar situation, at least as that pertains to argument.  An unbeliever or skeptic comes to you arguing certain points of the Bible, of which he knows just enough to be ignorant.  When I say ignorant, I mean he is ignorant of the Bible as a whole.  He has more than likely read or heard of something in it that he thought was strange, perhaps something about clothing or diet in the Pentateuch.  He knows that you don’t observe that rule, and then interrogates you according to some method he has strategized for weeks.  No matter what you say, he has anticipated your response and answers accordingly.  You see the glee in his eyes as he catches you off-guard on some obscure biblical point.  He feigns sincerity as he only wishes to know more about the Bible, which is, of course, hogwash, and you both know it but can’t say it.  (I speak like a man of experience, don’t I?)

Well, Jesus refuses to engage such people, knowing that it is quite pointless to cast pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6).  He sighs deeply, indicts the Pharisees’ hypocrisy in knowing weather-related signs but not the “signs of the times,” and tells them that the only sign their “evil and adulterous” generation would receive is the “sign of Jonah.”  Jesus referred to Jonah on another occasion when addressing the Pharisees saying, “For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40).  This, of course, is a reference to our Lord’s death and resurrection, his time in the tomb bodily and among the dead spiritually, until his resurrection, both bodily and spiritually, on the third day.

And it is this sign that conquers death, the grave, and hell, a sign that no unbeliever can understand until he comes to saving faith in Jesus Christ.  No amount of argument will convince anybody, especially someone who just wants to argue for the sake of argument.  We do live among an evil and adulterous generation; keep your hearts pure and be careful before whom you cast your pearls.  When sincere, this sign can conquer the hardest heart.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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