Jonah

Posted: November 23, 2015 in TLCC
Tags: , , , ,

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For a long time, we were praying for an opportunity to reach out to students. God allowed us to be right in front of CTU (Cebu Technological University). Week after week, we would hang out there and we would do a small group but still, it consisted of people from our own church. I was praying that we could really come up with a way of reaching out to the students.

12270423_10154414211483712_1504231879_n.jpgFinally, we changed the format of our small group. We made an event called ACOUSTIC AFTERNOON, where we would play the guitar and sing while people passed by. Then an idea came, we were giving out free juice to students. This was the answer to prayer. However, deep inside me, I was still asking God…give me a sign that this is the person I should talk to. Give me a sign that what we’re doing is what God wants us to be doing.

Our job is to reach out, to share the message. Here I was, asking for signs when people are passing by. Here I was, procrastinating by pretending to pray about it.

I don’t know how many of us can relate to this. Sometimes, God has already opened doors for us yet we still seek for signs. Fill in the blanks…

Lord, I will follow you if ____________.
God, I will commit my life if ____________.
I promise to go to the youth if ____________.
Lord, if you answer my prayer, I will ___________.
God, if you give me this job/this spouse/this quota, I will __________.

This is why this message is for us. For when we set conditions for God, we are evil.

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. Luke 11:29

When the crowds were increasing, Jesus did not waste His time. He calls the Israelites an evil generation. They were looking for signs. The book of Luke teaches us that…

#1 Jesus is God.

He cast out demons [authority over spirits], he taught about who God is [ a good teacher], He fed the five thousand [He is the provider], He calms the storm [authority over nature], Jesus raised the dead to life [authority over death], Jesus forgave sins [only God forgives sins], Jesus heals [authority over physical infirmities].

With ten chapters in the book of Luke, we have sufficient proof of the deity of Christ. We should have enough proof that He is God. Yet the Israelites were looking for a sign. The crowd accused Jesus that He is getting his power from Satan. He rebukes them for continuously clamoring for more signs and wonders.

For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. Luke 11:30

Review the story of Jonah. A prophet of God was sent to speak to a city. He runs away, boards a ship away from Nineveh. He doesn’t want to do what God tells him to do. A storm comes, the sailors tried their best to stay afloat but recognizes that this storm was from God. So they casted lots. The prophet was sleeping below the deck. He says the only way to stop the storm was to throw him overboard. The sailors tried to keep the ship afloat but to no avail. Eventually, they threw Jonah to the sea and the storm was gone.

Jonah stayed in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights. The fish threw him up on dry land. Here comes a man who stayed in the belly of the fish, walking, probably still not wanting to deliver the message but walks through the city murmuring. Someone overhears him. The news spreads fast. The whole city repents.

Jonah preached truth without love. Jesus preached truth with grace. This is so much better than the message of Jonah. The way to respond to God is through repentance!

So what is the sign of Jonah that Jesus is saying?

It is this three days that Jesus was referring to when He spoke of the sign of Jonah. Jesus had already been producing miracles that were witnessed by many. Jesus had just performed a great sign in the Pharisees’ presence by healing a deaf man who was possessed of a demon. Rather than believe, they accused Jesus of doing this by the power of Satan. Jesus recognized their hardness of heart and refused to give them further proof of His identity. However, He did say that there would be one further sign forthcoming, His resurrection from the dead. This would be their final opportunity to be convinced.

What are we to make of the phrase “three days and three nights”? Was Jesus saying that He would be dead for three full 24-hour periods before He would rise from the dead? It does not appear so. The phrase “three days and three nights” need not refer to a literal 72-hour period. Rather, according to the Hebrew reckoning of time, the days could refer to three days in part or in whole. Jesus was probably crucified on a Friday (Mark 15:42). According to the standard reckoning, Jesus died at about 3:00 PM (Matthew 27:46) on Friday (day 1). He remained dead for all of Saturday (day 2) and rose from the dead early on Sunday morning (day 3). Attempts to place Jesus’ death on Wednesday to accommodate a literal 72-hour period are probably unnecessary once we take into account the Hebrew method of reckoning of each day as beginning at sundown. So it seems that the expression “three days and three nights” was used as a figure of speech meant to signify any part of three days. (Source: gotquestions.org accessed: 11/22/2015 4:00PM)

#2 Response of the Queen of Sheba

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. Luke 11:31

Read 1 Kings 10. The Queen of Sheba visited Solomon and asked tough questions. Solomon answered all the questions she could ever think of. Then Solomon showed her the palace, the food, the seating of officials, the response of the Queen of Sheba was “there was no more breath in her”.

Solomon was a king of Israel. Jesus is the King of kings. Solomon spoke with wisdom but his life was a moral failure. Jesus lived the perfect life, with moral authority. Solomon answered tough questions, Jesus answered tough questions, but responses to both of them were different. The Queen of Sheba was breathless. The response to Jesus was to say “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons,” 16 while others, to test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven.” Jesus is greater than Solomon but is not getting the response like the Queen of Sheba.

#3 Response of the Ninevites

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 11:32

The people of Nineveh responded by fasting. They even went as far as weird by placing sackcloth on man and beast. What does the dogs and cats have to do with sin? They realize they need God. They realized they were doomed. They repented.

The people at the time of Jesus doesn’t want to acknowledge Him. They chose to hardened their hearts. Jesus is saying the people of Nineveh and the Queen of Sheba will one day be witnesses to the Israelites. For the people of Nineveh repented with Jonah, he doesn’t even surpass Jesus’ greatness.

#4 Response of the people today

We’re actually no different from the Israelites. We don’t respond like the people of Nineveh or the Queen of Sheba. We want a relationship with Christ as Savior but not His Lordship. We want the benefits of the relationship but not the responsibilities. We say we believe in Christ but lived like He doesn’t exist. We want to have Christ without any change in our lives. We don’t know how to respond to the grace given to us.

Here are a few questions to ask in light of our topic today…

• Where is the Holy Spirit prompting you to repent and you are resisting?
• In what ways do we live like we don’t believe in the consequences of unbelief?
• Are we a safe community to confess and repent of sin?
• Are we sharing the truth of the gospel to our neighbors so they have a chance to repent?

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