|The sign of Jonah|
Key Truth: Luke wrote Luke 11:29-36 to warn hearers to repent of their sin and respond to the light of the Word of God.
Key Application: Today I want to show you what God’s Word says about turning to Christ.
Pray and Read: Luke 11:29-36
1. Repent of your sin (Luke 11:29-32)Context:
Luke 11:14-17:11 is a section of Luke’s Gospel called the Perean Discourses, during a time of ministry in Perea from about September A.D. 28 to April A.D. 29 when he returned to Jerusalem for his last week of ministry. Luke is the only record of these days and teachings with the exception of Matt. 12:22-45 and a few incidents in John 10:22-42; 11:1-45; 11:46-54. Luke records parables and discourses, but not many incidents, possibly because it was winter. The beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee was marked with parables and sermons, too. Thus, Jesus resumes and repeats with more fullness some of the teaching he had given in Galilee.
In chapter ten we saw seventy spokesmen, one Samaritan, and two sisters. In chapter 11, Jesus instructs his friends on prayer (Luke 11:1-13), showing them that prayer grows out of a personal relationship with God with persistence and in complete confidence in God’s love. Then in a series of controversies climaxing at Luke 11:54, Jesus indicts his foes who accuse him of operating by satanic power, warning that any cleansing not followed by the filling of the Holy Spirit will ultimately fail (Luke 11:14-54). Jesus warns of judgment because “this generation” has not repented at his preaching (Luke 11:29-32), saying that God’s Word gives light to a life to shine (Luke 11:33-36) while woes are pronounced on Israel’s leaders (Luke 11:37-54).
Exposition: Note well,
1. REPENT OF YOUR SIN (Luke 11:29-32)
a. Luke 11:29-30 – Back in Luke 11:16, some responded to Jesus miracles by asking for a sign from heaven. The miracles of healing and deliverance were not enough. They wanted another sign. Mark tells us that the Pharisees had come and were arguing with Jesus, and he sighed deeply in his spirit (Mark 8:11-12). Jesus had just given a clear sign of His Messiahship: He had cast out a demon (a Messianic sign), and a demon of muteness at that (Isaiah 35:6 tells us that the healing of the mute is a sign of God’s end-time salvation.) Here is a sign. They ask for a sign, but they refuse to recognize the signs they want to see.
b. In Luke 11:27-28, Jesus gently corrects a woman who missed His point, “Blessed is the one who hears the word of God and obeys it. Now he explains what obeying it means. Jesus now answers them by declaring that only one more sign will be given, the sign of Jonah. The ‘sign of Jonah,’ a return from the grave (Matt 12:40; Jonah 1:17), was Jesus’ sign. That is the emphasis Matthew gives it, and Luke also points to Jesus resurrection as a sign that will be given in the future. However, Luke emphasizes that it should not be necessary. Jesus’ preaching is a greater prophet than Jonah, and his preaching to those who profess to believe the Word of God was much more important than Jonah’s preaching and call to repentance (Luke 11:32).
c. Luke 11:30 - Jonah the son of Amitai (2 Kings 14:25) was from Gath Hepher in Zebulun and ministered from about 800-750 BC, predicting the restoration of Israel’s borders during the reign of Jeroboam II. Jonah is best known for his book in which he rejected God’s call to preach His coming judgment against wicked Nineveh, the great capital of the Assyrian Empire (Jonah 1:1-2). When Jonah fled on a ship bound for Tarshish (probably in Spain), God pursued him with a storm. Jonah was thrown overboard and ended up in the belly of a great fish, where he repented and was spit up on dry land. Jonah finally fulfilled God’s call to preach to Nineveh. When the city repented, however, Jonah was not pleased, for his hopes were placed on its destruction. The book ends with God’s rebuke to Jonah (implying Israel) for his lack of compassion for a lost world.
d. Luke 11:31 - The Queen of the South: This is the Queen of Sheba (1 Kings 10:1-29; 2 Chron 9:1-12) who traveled a great distance to hear Solomon’s wisdom. Sheba was in southern Arabia. In 1 Kings 3, Solomon asks for a discerning heart to rule God’s people well. The Lord was pleased with his request and granted him not only wisdom, but also riches, power, and long life (1 Kings 3:10-15). Solomon’s wisdom is said to be greater than all the kings of the earth (1 Kings 4:29-34; 10:23-24) and far surpassed the queen’s expectations (1 Kings 10:6-9).
e. Luke 11:32 - Nineveh repented: Nineveh’s wickedness was notorious, and it was the reason for its impending judgment. The extraordinary conversion of the city through Jonah’s preaching, of which only one line is recorded, stands in stark contrast to Israel’s failure to respond to Jesus’ much more powerful words and deeds.
f. Jesus draws four contrasts here. First, the most powerful heathen city of its time responded to a reluctant, poor preacher of repentance, Jonah, whose obedience came only after the unusual miraculous sign of being spit out alive after three days and nights in the belly of a fish. Jesus is a greater prophet and better preacher than Jonah whose determined obedience will be demonstrated through His death, burial and on the third day, emerging of His own power from the grave, yet God’s people refuse to respond. Second, a heathen queen, and a woman at that, responded to the Lord’s wisdom and the men of God refuse the Lord Himself. Even the men of Nineveh had more spiritual sense (Luke 11:32). Third, since Sheba was the farthest point south on the Arabian Peninsula, modern Yemen, the ends of the earth responded to the Lord (Psalm 2:8) and not the people of the Holy Land. Fourth, the great wisdom of Israel’s most magnanimous king, Solomon is nothing compared to the Son of Man, a greater king than Solomon. Fifth, At the final judgment, those who did respond to God’s Word (Queen of Sheba and the people of Nineveh, all Gentiles) will condemn the present generation for rejected a greater witness than Solomon (a lesser King) or Jonah (a lesser prophet).
g. APPLICATION: If we will not believe the Word of God, we will be judged. Not even miracles can convince a person who will not believe. You cannot ask for more of God’s grace and love than Jesus. There is no greater revelation of God than Jesus. One who does not respond to Jesus will not respond, no matter the wonder God might perform.
2. RESPOND TO GOD’S WORD (Luke 11:33-36)
a. Luke 11:33 – Jesus’ teaching on hearing and responding to God’s word continues with two analogies related to light and darkness. The familiar image has a different application here. In the first, Jesus’ kingdom proclamation is like light from a lamp that shines for all to see. The lit lamp is Jesus, whom God has put on a stand through confirming wonders Christ has performed. Those whose spiritual sight has not been darkened by indifference and impenitence, the refusal to repent of sin have no need of a sign.
b. Luke 11:34-36 - The second analogy takes the first one forward and focuses on the person receiving the light. The good eye (literally, single or simple haplous, connoting generous) lets in the light, so that the whole person is enlightened. Bad eyes (poneros can mean unhealthy or evil, diseased, stingy) will not admit light, keeping the whole person in darkness. Just as light must be taken in by the eye in order to benefit the body, so Jesus’ teaching must be appropriated by the person.
c. APPLICATION: The only way a person can have light and see truth as it really is, is to accept Jesus’ healing words.
Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1993), 614-5.
S. MacLean Gilmour, “Luke.” George Arthur Buttrick, gen. ed., The Interpreter’s Bible. Vol. 8 (Nashville: Abingdon, 1952), 8:210-214.
Craig Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove: Intervarsity, 1993), 220-1.
Dwight J. Pentecost, The Words and Works of Jesus Christ (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), 306-7.
Lawrence O. Richards, The Victor Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Wheaton: Victor, 1994), 181.
Lawrence O. Richards, The Bible Reader’s Companion (Wheaton: Victor, 1991), 662.
David W. Pao and Eckhard J. Schnabel, “Luke,” G.K. Beale and D.A. Carson, gen. eds., Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007), 324-5.
Alfred Plummer, International Critical Commentary on Luke, 5th ed. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1902), 28:306-309.
David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary (Clarksville, MD: Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996), 123.
Strauss, Mark. “Luke.” Vol. 1. Clinton E. Arnold, gen. ed. Zondervan Illustratied Bible Backgrounds Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), 1:422-3.
Swindoll, Charles R. and Bryce Klabunde, The Declaration of Something Mysterious: A Study of Luke 10:38-16:18 (Anaheim, CA: Insight for Living, 1995), 27-32.