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
Jesus did not pull any punches when it came to the Jewish people who were witnesses to His ministry. It seemed that no matter what miracles Jesus did and no matter how authoritative His teachings were that generation refused to believe. They continued to ask for more and more signs that Jesus was the Messiah. It seems that no signs or miracles would be enough. Once again Jesus compares the people of His day to the gentile peoples of ages ago. This time it is Nineveh. Until it was destroyed in 612 BC Nineveh was one of the largest and most powerful cities in ancient Mesopotamia. It was a religious center for the worship of the goddess Ishtar. It was to this pagan city that God sent the prophet Jonah to preach God’s Word.
Most of us remember the story of how Jonah refused to go and tried to run away from God. The city of Nineveh was so wicked that God had its destruction planed but told Jonah to go and preach of the coming destruction. Jonah refused and got passage on a ship going in the opposite direction. The ship runs into a great storm and Jonah tells the crew to throw him into the sea in order to stop the storm. it is then that Jonah is swallowed by a great fish. Jonah remains in the fish for three days only to be deposited on the shores near Nineveh.
Jonah does what God commanded and preaches to the Ninevites and we are told “and the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.” (Jonah 3:5-10 ESV)
The pagan city of Nineveh heard the preaching of the prophet Jonah and repented of the wicked ways and fasted praying for God to have mercy on them. The Jews, God’s people, saw and heard Jesus the Messiah perform miracles and teach the Word of God with authority and yet they refused to believe. Jesus told them that “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.” Even after Jesus was resurrected many, in fact most refused to believe even though the most amazing miracle in all creation happened in their presence. How much more will this generation be judged that after we have God’s completed revelation so many refuse to believe.
Have a blessed day,