When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. (Luke 11:29-32)
As Jesus went through His earthly ministry, He encountered people who wanted a sign, and here He says that the generation who was seeking a sign was an evil generation. Now it’s important to distinguish here that these people weren’t seeking a sign to inquire of the truth, they were seeking a sign as proof of what had already been prophesied about. Jesus said that the queen of the South sought the wisdom of Solomon and the men of Nineveh repented at Jonah’s preaching, and yet those would rise up at judgement against that generation who was seeking a sign from the Son of God.
The Sign of Jonah
Jesus says the only sign that would be given is the sign of Jonah. Now, there are distinct parallels between Jonah and Jesus. Jonah was sent to preach repentance to a people in captivity to their sin and Jesus was sent with the message of repentance for the kingdom of God was at hand and He was sent to set the captives free. Jonah spent 3 days in the belly of a large fish before rising out of the ocean onto dry land and Jesus died and rose on the 3rd day. And yet, regardless of the similarities and even foreshadowing of Messiah through the sign of Jonah, Jesus is greater than Jonah and He was there.
Jesus tells the people that they’re an evil generation because there was a foreshadowing of their Messiah in that sign, and even with Jesus being greater and the fulfillment as the Messiah they had long awaited, they still sought a sign from Him. The thing is, Jesus didn’t need to perform any signs because He WAS the sign – He is Messiah, He is salvation, He is God.
They missed the big picture! They were so focused on wanting a sign they could see that they actually failed to see Who was right in front of them. The issue with that generation was their lack of faith because faith walks not by sight. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and conviction of things unseen, so if they’re focused on what they can see then faith wouldn’t be required. Yet, we know that Abraham, and many others, believed and it was counted to them as righteousness – hence the righteous shall walk by faith.
As followers of Jesus, we already believe and have accepted Jesus as Messiah, but it can still be tempting to have a worldview based on what we see happening in today’s culture. However, as followers of Jesus we should have a biblical worldview, trusting in God as we walk by faith in following Him. Our current days are evil, but we have the assurance that Jesus, as our living hope who died to redeem us and rose on the third day and has set us free from the captivity of our sin, is coming to take us home someday soon. Be comforted, my sibling in Christ, and keep walking and focusing on our Savior, who is greater and is here.