Because they repented that generation of Ninevites was not destroyed. That’s the sign of Jonah. Jesus was their Jonah. They got the sign of Jonah. If that wicked generation did not repent, it would be destroyed. They didn’t and were. In A.D. 70, 40 years later, Rome sent its armies and destroyed everything beginning in Galilee to Judea even burning and dismantling their religious temple. They got their sign alright. Sometimes getting a miraculous sign from heaven is not good.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE CHAPTER 11

They Got the Sign of Jonah – Luke 11:29-36

By Delbert Young

sign of Jonah

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They Got the Sign of Jonah – Luke 11:29-36

Scriptures: Luke 11:29-30: Luke 11:15-16; John 15:24; Jonah 1:1-2; Jonah 3:4-5; Luke 11:31; Luke 11:32; Luke 11:33-36; John 3:19; Luke 11:35

We’re living with Jesus through Luke’s gospel. We’ll begin today where we left off last time. Jesus confronted the slanderous rumor the Pharisaical media projected to the population saying Jesus drove out demons by the power of Beelzebub. They also tested him wanting a miraculous sign from heaven. After dealing with the idiotic Beelzebub rumor, Jesus dealt with the sign from heaven.

Luke 11:29-30 As the crowds increased, Jesus said, THIS IS A WICKED GENERATIONIT ASKS FOR A MIRACULOUS SIGN, but none will be given it EXCEPT the sign of Jonah. For as JONAH WAS A SIGN to the NINEVITESSO ALSO WILL THE SON OF MAN BE TO THIS GENERATION.

The Ninevites saw this sign. (Point being they didn’t see the fish part.) We need to again make certain we see, as we did last time, Jesus is generation specific and the specific generation was his generation. He’s specific twice. He said “this is a wicked generation,” and “…the Son of Man be to this generation.”

Concerning the miraculous sign, Jesus referenced back to verse 16.

Luke 11:15-16 But some of them said, “By Beelzebub, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.” Others TESTED HIM by asking for A SIGN FROM HEAVEN.

They wanted a sign from where? Remember that. They got it. Jesus first dealt with the Beelzebub slander (Luk 11:17-28). He next addressed the sign from heaven. The crowd observed Jesus drive out a mute demon (v14). That sign wasn’t good enough. They wanted a sign from heaven, but would any miracle be good enough? Would any miracle overcome the damage the slander had already done, not to Jesus, but to the people’s belief in Jesus? That’s what slander does. It damages our belief in people.

If someone asked you how you would determine a wicked generation, you most likely would not answer, “It asks for a miraculous sign.” You would likely give a long list of vile things. The reason Jesus deemed them wicked and filled with evil spirits was because they wanted to believe Jesus was of Beelzebub, demonic, and from hell, not from God. What does our generation want to believe about Jesus? Do they want to believe he’s the Christ the Son of God, or believe he’s a fraud from hell?

They’d seen miracles no one else ever saw. That wasn’t the problem. The problem was by hating him they hated God.

John 15:24 If I had NOT done among them what NO ONE ELSE DID, they would NOT be GUILTY OF SIN. But now THEY HAVE SEEN THESE MIRACLES, and yet THEY HAVE HATED BOTH ME AND MY FATHER.

Their sin was so great because they saw signs no one else ever saw as Jesus did things no one else ever did. They were the most religious people ever, but at the same time God haters. Is this possible? Can a person be religious yet so deceived they actually hate God? That’s the delusion and exactly what religion does. It is profound delusion. Religion is full of laws and legalisms. Religion is condemning and judgmental. Being with and gathering with Jesus isn’t religious. It’s relational. “He who is not with me is against me” (Luk 11:23).

Miraculous signs do not cause people to believe. An example of this would be the children of Israel as they came out of Egypt and went through the desert, yet their unbelief caused them to die in the wilderness. Sometimes people will say something like, “If God would only do…, I’d believe.” No they won’t. It’s similar to when we make a deal with God. “God if you will get me out of this mess I created I will do…” He got us out, but we didn’t do what we said not believing God really worked a miracle. Again, it must be based on a relationship. It can’t be religion and based on miracles.

 (TMB) Luke 11:29-30 As the crowd swelled, he took a fresh tack: “The mood of this age is all wrong. Everybody’s looking for proof, but you’re looking for the wrong kind. All you’re looking for is something to titillate your curiosity, satisfy your lust for miracles. But THE ONLY PROOF YOU’RE GOING TO GET IS THE JONAH-PROOF GIVEN TO THE NINEVITES, which looks like no proof at all. What Jonah was to Nineveh, the Son of Man is to this age.

The same sign Jonah was, Jesus the Son of Man will be. What is the sign of Jonah? There are two. Jesus made this same statement in Matthew 12:40 while in Galilee. There the emphasis was different.

Remember the story of “Jonah and the whale.” It was actually a huge fish (Mat 12:40; Jon 1:17) “prepared” (KJV) – “provided” (NIV) by the Lord. It’s amazing what God will prepare and provide for us sometimes. Jesus does verify Jonah in the fish belly three days. Likewise Jesus, the Son of Man would be in the heart of the earth. In Matthew, Jesus spoke of his burial and resurrection, but here the sign of Jonah is not the burial and resurrection. What is the sign of Jonah here?

Jesus said here, “so also will the Son of Man be to this generation.” The resurrection is a sign for all generations. How did this relate specifically to that wicked generation? Jonah was to tell Nineveh unless they repented in forty days, they would be destroyed.

Jonah 1:1-2 The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and PREACH AGAINST IT, because ITS WICKEDNESS has come up before me.”

Jonah 3:4-5 On the day Jonah entered the city, he shouted to the crowds: “FORTY DAYS from now Nineveh will be DESTROYED!” The people of Nineveh believed God’s message…

The fish part actually didn’t have anything to do with Nineveh. The Ninevites believed God’s message, fasted, and repented. Because they repented that generation of Ninevites was not destroyed. That’s the sign of Jonah. Jesus was the same sign. If that wicked generation did not repent, it would be destroyed. They didn’t and were. In A.D. 70, 40 years later, Rome sent its armies and destroyed everything beginning in Galilee to Judea even burning and dismantling their religious temple. They got their sign alright. Sometimes getting a miraculous sign from heaven is not good. Let’s finish the passage and you will see this is exactly what Jesus was saying. Next verse says,

Luke 11:31 For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. The Queen of the South will rise at the JUDGMENT with the MEN OF THIS GENERATION AND CONDEMN THEM; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.

The Queen of the South (Sheba 1Kings 10) was a gentile queen who would judge that wicked generation. How humiliating it would be to Jewish chauvinistic men to be judged by a gentile woman. She would bring her judgment from the ends of the earth. Imagine how Jesus simply saying that infuriated the Jews. She saw the greatness of Solomon, but one greater than Solomon was there and the religious Jews rejected him and refused to see. (That’s another thing religion does – belittle women.) Jesus wasn’t done yet. Next verse.

Luke 11:32 The men of Nineveh will stand up at THE JUDGMENT WITH THIS GENERATION AND CONDEMN IT; for THEY REPENTED AT THE PREACHING OF JONAH, and now one greater than Jonah is here.

The men of Nineveh were hated gentiles. Jesus added more humiliation and infuriation to the bigotry of the Jews. (Another thing religion does – bigotry.) The men of Nineveh repented at Jonah’s preaching. One greater than Jonah was there and they rejected and refused to see him. Godless, idol worshipping gentiles would judge that wicked generation. Not exactly the sign they wanted, but the only sign they got.

On a personal note, where are you concerning Jesus? Are you with Jesus, or with this wicked generation? Do you refuse to see and acknowledge a greater than Solomon is here? Do you refuse to see and acknowledge a greater than Jonah is here?

I have an interesting thought I’d like to open to us. Isn’t it interesting Jesus didn’t say God would judge them? Certainly he will. I’m not discounting God’s judgment, but Jesus said people would judge them – the queen of the south and the men of Nineveh. I wonder who will judge our wicked generation. Maybe Sodom? I wonder who will judge me. I wonder who might judge you. Maybe our worst enemy or those we’ve belittled and hated and slandered? Just a thought…. There seems to be far more to judgment than a merciful God.

Jesus finished addressing the Beelzebub slander and the sign from heaven with the allegory of the lamp and eyes. It would seem out of context unless put together. These people were in profound delusion. They were in the worst type of delusion. It’s when you are so deceived that you are positive you are right and nothing anyone can do or say will change you. Some things do not affect your eternity when wrong, but this was not one of them. They thought they had the light of understanding when actually they attempted to hide the light.

Luke 11:33-36 “No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your EYES ARE GOOD, your whole body also is full of light. But when THEY ARE BAD, your body also is full of darkness. SEE TO IT, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, AS WHEN THE LIGHT OF A LAMP SHINES ON YOU.”

Jesus is the lamp who shines on us. We discussed this teaching when we studied Luke chapter 8, so there is no need to go through it here. This is a very familiar teaching of Jesus. It’s recorded in Mat 5:15; 6:22; Mar 4:21; Luk 8:16; 11:33; 15:8. Jesus likely taught it in every city and village he went. We learned about it in Sunday School as children singing, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine… Hide it under a bushel, NO! I’m gonna let it shine…” But, here the thought is different. Jesus is the lamp.

John 3:19 THIS IS THE VERDICT: Light has come into the world, but men LOVED DARKNESS instead of light because their deeds were evil.

Jesus is the light of the world, but the Judaist leaders loved their darkness – religion and attempted to hide Jesus the lamp under a bushel/bowl using the Beelzebub slander and wanting a sign from heaven. He gave them more than enough light to see. If the Queen of the South could recognize the greatness of Solomon and the Ninevites could see the sign of Jonah, certainly that wicked generation could see. The problem was their eyes were not good. They were blinded by religious teachings. They would miss the kingdom of God and suffer destruction for themselves, their families, their children, and their wicked generation. How are our eyes?

Luke 11:35 SEE TO IT, then, that THE LIGHT WITHIN YOU IS NOT DARKNESS.

What a statement! Who is to “See to it”? You are. I am. I must make certain the light – understanding in me – is not darkness. No one can do that for me. Jesus does not want us in the darkness of profound delusion and we don’t have to be. It’s simply a matter of getting close enough to the Lamp for the Lamp to shine on you. See to it.

Other Related Sermons:

Revelation Chapter 10, Mighty Angel, the Little Book Sweet and Bitter – video audio notes

Revelation Chapter 11, Two Witnesses – sermon video audio notes

Revelation Chapter 17, Great Whore, Scarlet Colored Beast – sermon video audio notes

Also see:

Sermons Change The World

Life Gate Church sermons by Delbert Young