Let’s begin by reading Matthew 12:38-41, “Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, 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: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.”

It is ironic that as the Lord was teaching in the synagogue, these particular scribes and Pharisees would ask the Lord to give them a sign from Heaven to authenticate His teachings. In this chapter alone, they had already accuses Him of breaking the law (verse 2), they had looked for a way to kill him (verse 14), and they had accused him of being demon possessed (verse 24). Now they want a sign! Surely the Lord was correct when He said “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh a sign.” They were evil because of their rejection of the Lord. They were adulterous because of their running after other gods.

But, to their request, the Lord told them that He would not give them a sign. They already had a sign given to them in the story of Jonah. We read in Jonah 1:17, “Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” It was not Jonah’s refusal to do God’s will, or his running in the opposite direction of Nineveh that was a sign of the Lord Jesus, but it was Jonah’s being in the belly of this great fish for three days and three nights that was the sign the Lord was speaking of. This was a sign, or type, of the Lord Jesus being in the heart of the earth (the grave) for three days and nights before His resurrection. The Lord had already spoken of His impending death and resurrection in John 2:19, “Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” He mentions it again now as He speaks to them of Jonah.

It was the Jews’ reckoning of days that allowed Jonah to be a type of the Lord Jesus. You might think that Christ was not literally in the tomb for three complete days and nights…and you would be correct. However, as the Jews reckoned a day…any part of a day was considered as a full day when referring to events. We realize that the Lord was crucified and had died around 3:00 PM. His body was in the grave all the next day, and He was risen on the third day. According to the Jewish reckoning of time, Christ was considered as being in the grave for three days.

How important is the resurrection to the Gospel story. How important is it to our salvation? Let’s read 1 Corinthians 15:13-14, “But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and YOUR FAITH IS ALSO VAIN.” Verse 17 makes it clear that if Christ has not risen from the dead, then “YE ARE YET IN YOUR SINS.” Romans 4:25 assures us that, “(Christ) was delivered for our offences, and was RAISED AGAIN FOR OUR JUSTIFICATION.”

Have you considered the sign of Jonah? Have you realized the importance of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ? We read in Romans 10:9, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that GOD HATH RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD, thou shalt be saved.” (259.4)