Matthew 12:38-42 Reflection: The Sign of Jonah

A reading from the gospel of Matthew 12:38-42

38 Some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.”
39 He said to them in reply, “An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign,
but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet.
40 Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.
41 At the judgment, the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and there is something greater than Jonah here.
42 At the judgment the queen of the south will arise with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and there is something greater than Solomon here.”

Reflection: Something Greater

Like the Scribes and the Pharisees, the people of modern times want something that is ordered, logical, and can be proven. Yet evil and unfaithfulness still reign in their hearts. The message of Jesus is simple enough: turn away from your sins and believe in Him. He is the only true sign – the sign of God’s love, mercy and power.

Jesus reminds us of the sign of Jonah. We knew Jonah as a reluctant messenger of repentance but when he obeyed, the whole population repented! Imagine what one good person can do, a whole city is saved from destruction.

Jesus definitely is something greater than Jonah. He preached with the greatest gift of wisdom. He performed the greatest miracles. Still, the supposedly “learned” people looked for a sign. No wonder Jesus called them evil and unfaithful generation because they were obviously spiritually blind.

Indeed, some of us might be jealous of them because the Lord of Lords and the King of kings walked in their midst and they witnessed the many miracles and heard His wise counsels. Don’t we wish we were there in His time and place? It isn’t actually necessary. Jesus calls those who believe in Him as blessed though they have not seen Him in person. No, we are not jealous after all.

Jesus also reminds us of Solomon. Out of strong desire to see the wealth and hear the wisdom of Solomon, people from afar did not mind the difficulties of travelling. Perhaps during their time, they have spent many days and perhaps their entire savings just to go to Jerusalem to see him. Jesus is greater than Solomon but how many people are willing to spend a minute, much less spend a few dollars, to listen to His words?

It really takes the eyes of faith for us to see something greater than the ordinary. It may not be easy but our guide and helper, the Holy Spirit, is just one call away through prayer.


The Pharisees and Scribes were real hypocrites. They addressed Jesus as “Teacher” but they do not believe in Him. In fact, they despised Him. They asked for a sign to convince them that Jesus is indeed the Messiah but they have already witnessed many miracles including the healing of a demon-oppressed man. All they actually wanted was something to discredit Him. Jesus knew what was in their hearts so He refused to give one.

Our motives can make or break us. If we have pure intentions, our desires will be granted. Otherwise, condemnation is upon us. Let us constantly check out our thoughts and wishes. Do we wish something good for ourselves and for others? If not, repentance is in order. Like the people of Nineveh, we will be saved when we hear the Word of God and repent.

Go here to read a parallel reflection.

Gospel Reading and Reflection
Gospel Reading and Reflection

One comment

Any comment?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.