[Column] Remember the Signs of Jonah

In the Gospel of Matthew chapter 12, the Jewish leaders come to Jesus looking for a sign. Sign is demanded for verification of authenticity as to whether a person is sent from God or whether the message given is from God. The Jewish leaders expected the signs of Moses and Elijah: manna from the Heavens, the burning bush, etc. Would they have believed if these signs were indeed given? Knowing that was not the case, Our Lord said, “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.” (Matthew 12: 39) They demanded signs not to believe but to find excuses for not believing and to test God. God grants miracles and grace to those who believe, not to those who do not believe.

What is the sign of Jonah Our Lord speaks of? In his resentment towards Ninevites, Jonah headed to Tarshish and was soon caught in a storm. By God’s grace, he survived by being swallowed by a large fish. Later he delivered God-given message to Ninevites. “You will receive the judgment of wrath. There will be a great earthquake and the fortress of Nineveh will be destroyed. I ran away knowing all this. Then God drowned me into the sea, revived me, and sent me to you. This is the extent of His power and love for you.” Jonah showed no sign. Only by listening to his words, Ninevites believed in Divine judgment and love. They received salvation. What could be greater a proof than that God loves us? What more proof and signs are needed when God sent us His only begotten Son? The suffering and Passion of Jesus Christ are the greatest signs of God, who loves us.

A poor, married couple had six children and was barely making ends meet. Then a wealthy friend visited them one day and proposed that they give one of their children away for adoption to him. While the children were sleeping, the couple discussed which child to send away for adoption. They thought of the eldest but soon withdrew the idea because he was the eldest. They could not let go of their second eldest because she was the first daughter. The third child was a weak, vulnerable girl. The fourth child resembled the maternal grandmother so much so that the wife could not send her away. The fifth child was reminiscent of his grandfather. The only child left now was an infant but the wife eventually began sobbing uncontrollably and said, “I wouldn’t trade my precocious baby for anything in the world.” The couple could not let go of any of the six children.

To save you and me, God sent us His only begotten Son. How great a love this is. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”(Romans 8:32). Today we have the signs of Jonah in us. Nothing in this world separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39). The greatest sign in the world is the sign of love. We have to witness this sign of love to those around us and be the messenger of God like Jonah, who revives the souls and lives of others.

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