When the crowds were increasing, Jesus began to say, ‘This generation is an evil generation; it asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be to this generation. The queen of the South will rise at the judgement with the people of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here! The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgement with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here!
The Book of Jonah is a delightful and amusing book, and short – about three pages. The introduction to it in the Jerusalem Bible calls it “a droll adventure…and its doctrine is one of the peaks of the Old Testament…. Broadminded, it rejects a too rigid interpretation of prophecy…. rejects, too, a narrow racialism…. All the characters of this story are likeable, the pagan sailors, the king, the populace, even the animals of Niniveh…. We are on the threshold of the Gospel.”
It is easy to imagine Jesus as a young man hearing it and laughing at the antics of Jonah, and the animals doing penance, and Jonah arguing heatedly with God (God, “Are you right to be angry?” Jonah, “I have every right to be angry!”)
In today’s passage, Jesus uses Jonah as a headline for his own preaching. That's how close we are to the Gospel. Don’t go to bed tonight without reading it!
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