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Preaching the Sign of Jonah: Christ's Resurrection (Matthew Sermon 55 of 151)

Preaching the Sign of Jonah: Christ's Resurrection (Matthew Sermon 55 of 151)

May 18, 2003 | Andrew Davis
Christ's Resurrection, Prophecy

Introduction 

 We'll be looking this morning at Matthew 12: 38-42:  The Sign of Jonah.   Shortly after I came to Christ  a little over 20 years ago, I was a junior at MIT.  I was studying to be a mechanical engineer and I came to personal faith in Christ. Shortly thereafter I was given a book by one of my Campus Crusade for Christ friends, Josh McDowell's, Evidence that Demands a Verdict. The book is totally falling apart. I've used it over and over. It's a fantastic book, a book of Christian apologetics. Apologetics is that aspect of Christian mental discipline and study in which we try to make a defense for our faith and present evidence for our Christian faith to an unbelieving world. This book was a great encouragement to me, especially the chapter on Christ's resurrection. It presented the historical and biblical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It talked about the fact, established by the historian Josephus as well as others, that the apostles were proclaiming an empty tomb within one generation after Christ. They're proclaiming a resurrection.

It encouraged me that there was evidence that they were preaching a resurrection because a resurrection is really pretty easy to disprove. All you have to do is go to the tomb and produce a corpse and the religion ends immediately. That tells me also by logic that the tomb must have been empty. As McDowell leads us through the logic of explaining why the tomb was empty, what could have happened to the body of Christ? Different options are put forth but they're all ridiculous except for the resurrection itself. For example, the idea that Jesus merely swooned on the cross, he wasn't really dead and then the cool spices revived him and he kind of pushed that boulder aside and came out and convinced them that he'd been raised from the dead. Or the best answer that they have is the disciples came and stole the body and then died as martyrs, every one of them for a lie. That doesn't make any sense either. If you knew that you had the corpse of Jesus over in Peter's garden, would you die for that? Absolutely not, it didn't make any sense.  As I logically work through all of the possibilities for what happened to the body of Christ, I was satisfied and encouraged that Jesus had risen from the dead. But you know, I already believed it. I believed it from Scripture, and it came to me and I understood that if you believe this book from McDowell, and you don't believe the Scriptures, then you have no genuine faith. Therefore, the strongest evidence in Josh McDowell's book are scriptural text, after scriptural text, of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.   Shouldn't  I be even more encouraged that Josephus or somebody else said that Jesus had risen from the dead?  If I don't believe Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and the apostles, then I won't believe anything. What happened to me is I came to the place where I realized that we accept from the Scriptures the resurrection of Jesus Christ and that is the solid foundation of our faith. It's unshakable, nothing else can come that would tower over the scriptural testimony to the empty tomb, the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

There’s a verse  that kind of jumped off the page for me:  John chapter 20 when the disciples go to the empty tomb. It's Peter and John, and they run to the tomb, and they see the evidence for the resurrection. They see the linen cloths that were around his body lying in exactly the position where they had been.  Jesus, in some sense,  came up out of those sticky cloths and just left them in the shape of his body, that's what the Greek implies. His head cloth was folded up off by itself, and  the stone had been moved in a mighty way. Everything in that tomb, all the physical evidence, spoke of resurrection. He's alive, He's conquered death. John, who had reached the tomb, first went inside and  it says, "He saw and believed." But look at the next verse, in the NIV, a little parenthesis but so vital. They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead. Why is that so vital? Because that's all you and I get. That's really probably all the first generation of Christians got. I would say very few of them actually went into the empty tomb. I'm sure that the linens were taken by the Jewish adversaries, probably the next day and they were gone. All we get is a proclamation of an empty tomb, don't we? We get the Scriptures and the combination is enough to save my soul. The Scriptures testify to an empty tomb, and so also witnesses through every generation have proclaimed the resurrection of the dead through faith in Christ, that Jesus is the first fruit from the dead, and that there is a resurrection.

I ask you this morning, is that enough for you? Is it enough to get the scriptural prophecies and open written account that Jesus rose from the dead? To get preachers like me who get up and proclaim it and visibly through words depict Jesus dead on the cross and then on the third day, risen from the tomb. Is that enough? I found that as I went out evangelizing and taking this wonderful apologetic material from McDowell working logically through the possibilities, I would sit and talk to a co-worker, and they'd listen to my presentation and when I was finished, I'd say, "Well, what do you think?" They say, "Well, I think Jesus probably rose from the dead." I say, "Well, that's wonderful." And their face hadn't changed, there's nothing else, it just seems like it makes sense. "Was there anything else? Something else you wanted to talk about?"

I saw there was more than just the logical arm twisting that would come from this kind of logical presentation. There had to be more. There had to be repentance at the proclaiming of the word. All of that is in the text we'll look at today. What is the sign of Jonah? It's all of the things. It's the empty tomb, actually in history occurring, that Jesus did it in space and time. The tomb is empty, his body has been raised from the dead. Then we get eyewitnesses, the apostles, who proclaimed it in their generation, wrote it down for all succeeding generations. We then understand from the Scriptures that Christ raised from the dead.  But that's not enough. Having heard this, we then believe, we repent like the men of Nineveh, and we accept the gospel. This is the sign of Jonah, and this is exactly what Jesus proclaim.

 If you're here today as an unbeliever, I want to ask, what would it take for you to believe? I've asked that question, and people are usually animated about that. Well, if God would just send a miracle. If he would just give me a sign, something to let me know he's there and that he's listening to me, some kind of miracle. I've come to believe that no matter what sign is given, no matter what is done, if they don't believe from Scripture, they won't believe regardless the magnitude of the sign. So, we must simply preach the sign of Jonah, the empty tomb, and repentance in the proclaimed word, and that's sufficient for salvation.

A Sign Demanded; A Sign Rejected

The context here in Matthew 12  is of a consistent attack on Jesus Christ by the Pharisees. That's what the chapter's all about, for the most part. Look at chapter 12:2, for example. It says that the Pharisees saw Jesus' disciples going through the grain fields and began to attack him on the issue of the Sabbath.  There are the Pharisees attacking him on what he does on the Sabbath. Again, we see the Pharisees in verse 14, at the end of this attack and after Jesus does a miracle of healing on the Sabbath, going out  plotting how they might kill Jesus. The Pharisees are galvanizing an attack on Christ through unbelief and their plot to kill Jesus will succeed; they will murder him in the end.

 We see the Pharisees listed again in verse 24, after Jesus does an astonishing miracle driving out a demon from a man who's blind and mute. Everybody's astonished  and they say, "Could this be the son of David?" Verse 24: "But when the Pharisees heard this, they said it is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons that this fellow drives out demons.” The Pharisees are uttering this filthy saying that it is by Beelzebub, by the devil himself, that Jesus is driving out demons. Jesus then teaches them about the unforgivable sin which is  never  to be forgiven either in this age or in the age to come. Again,  the Pharisees in verse 38, "Some of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law said to him, ‘Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.’” We see their approach being sarcastic, hypocritical really. They come to him with a term of honor, they're flattering Jesus. "Teacher," they call him, it's a title of honor.

In another instance, they also come with this kind of flattery. "We know that you teach the way of truth in accordance with the law. Everything you say is true. We know that you're a man of integrity. Tell us, is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?"  It's a kind of a smooth and tricky way of approaching Jesus, but Jesus isn't fooled for a moment. They come in this sarcastic and hypocritical, self-serving way and  give him this title of honor, teacher. Then they demand a sign from him. It's interesting how Jews, it says, demand a sign.  In 1 Corinthian, the Apostle Paul said that this is what the Jews are looking for, they want a sign. It's woven into their whole approach, they're going to test every spiritual leader by the ability to produce a sign. Apparently, not just one. Jesus was doing a river of miracles, one miracle after another. They come now and say, "We want to see a sign." "Do you mean another sign after the 5000 miracles I've already done?"

It's a fascinating thing. Look at John 6 for example when Jesus feeds 5000 men plus women and children with five loaves and two fish. They come the next day in Capernaum and ask him for a sign. It's an amazing thing. What sign will you do to show us that we should follow you? What will you do? Moses gave us bread from heaven and so Jesus teaches the bread from heaven. They're always asking for a sign. Moses himself was the first that used this approach and it came from God himself, when God called them in Exodus 3 and 4. He said, "You're to go to your people, the Jews, and when you go, you're to take your staff and cast it down and it'll turn into a serpent, then grab it by the tail again, and it turns back into a rod. This is a sign that I'm with you. If they don't believe that sign, then take your hand and stick it inside your garment. When you pull it out, it becomes leprous, put it back into the fold, take it out and it's healed again. This is a sign that they will listen."  In Exodus 4:8, the Lord said if they do not believe you or pay attention to the first miraculous sign, they may believe the second. A sign is a way of signifying that God is with a spokesman and they follow him because of the sign. Samuel, the last of the judges, did a great and miraculous sign. 1 Samuel 12:18, "Then Samuel called upon the Lord and that same day the Lord sent thunder and rain. So all the people stood in awe of the Lord and of Samuel." Elijah did great signs and wonders to testify to the validity of his message.The school of the prophets knew that the power of God that had been with Elijah was now on Elisha when he took his mantle, his cloak, and smacked the Jordan river with it and it split and he walked across on dry land. They were used to and accustomed to looking for miraculous signs.

This particular demand is a severe test of Christ. They're not coming with a heart to believe but they're looking for a sign. Apparently, they discounted all the healings.  They wanted in effect (Matthew 16) a sign from heaven. Well, what would this be? Well, I don't know, maybe you could make the sun explode and then recreate it again or maybe rearrange the Big Dipper if they can see that from Palestine, I assume they can, kinda make the hand will go the other way or do something up in the heavens, something that only God could do. Maybe write your name, or maybe write my name up in the heavens then I'll know that you are a prophet of God. Miracles were not enough. But instead of them exposing Christ to be the fake, the fraud that they thought he was, rather he exposes them. A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign, he says, but none will be given it except the sign of the Prophet Jonah.  What does he mean by generation? This word could be translated a couple of different ways. It could either refer to their race as Jews. This Jewish race, represented here by the Pharisees, is constantly looking for a miraculous sign.  The Scribes and Pharisees were their leaders. They were physically descended from Abraham and were gifted with the Scripture. Despite all that God had done for their race through Moses, through all the prophets, they still didn't believe him. Jesus could be speaking of the entire Jewish race, hard-hearted rebels, or he could be speaking specifically about the Pharisees as the leaders and those who were living in his time who had an opportunity to see the miracles that he was doing, opportunities that no other generation had ever had or would have again.

A wicked and adulterous generation, this generation asks for a miraculous sign. He calls them wicked. It's a very strong word here, very much like what Jesus had said in Matthew 12:34. He says, "You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.”  The heart is naturally wicked and he calls them wicked. Jesus did not study in the school of how to win friends and influence people. He told the truth and went to the heart of the matter  saying, “In your hearts, there's great wickedness through your unbelief, a wicked generation." Remarkably, the fact of the matter is, all of us are wicked naturally apart from Christ. Does that cause you to stumble? Jesus could testify that apart from him, you are wicked, alienated from God, strangers to him, hard-hearted and offended by the law of God and by his holiness. It’s the truth.

If the Pharisees don't accept his diagnosis, they will never be healed because it's not the healthy who need a doctor. It’s the sick. It's not the righteous whom Jesus  came to call, it's the wicked, it's sinners.  He came to call them to repentance. They were offended by this. He strips them bare and calls them wicked. He also calls them adulterous. This comes from a longstanding understanding that the Jews were God's spouse spiritually. The Jews were the wife of God. Jeremiah said in Jeremiah 2:2, "Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the desert through a land not sown." There was a spiritual marriage which happened between God and Israel. This marriage language happens again and again, and when they start turning to false gods, to idols, he calls it adultery.  They were adulterous people because they love another and not him. Many prophets made use of this analogy in speaking of  unbelief, idolatry, rebellion, calling it  spiritual adultery. Probably the most stark was Hosea who is told to marry a prostitute. His wife, Gomer,  goes out every night, night after night, a visible living out in depiction of what Israel was doing in relation to God. The real issue is the human heart, isn't it? God has made us for himself said Augustine, and our hearts are restless if we don't find our rest in Him. We're restless, we're looking for something. John Piper says the human heart is a desire factory, we're cranking out desires, wanting all the time, wanting something, and if we fulfill that desire with something other than God, then we are adulterous too.

James 4:4 says, "You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is enmity or hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God." Spiritual adultery is still alive today, even in the church, people who long for earthly things and not for God. Jesus says a wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign, but this demand is rejected. "None will be given it," he says. Jesus is not going to do miracles on demand. He's not going to be their private miracle worker. That would reverse the whole order. Jesus, throughout the whole gospel of Matthew, is portrayed as the king of the kingdom of heaven. He is in charge, he sets the agenda, he decides what he will and won't do. All of his miracles were, in some respects, connected to creation, the creation he'd done with his heavenly Father and by the power of the Spirit, re-establishing what had originally been the order, the creation order. It wasn't just making pink elephants appear in the sky. Or doing some kind of spectacular demand up in the heavens. It wasn't like that at all. He was reversing the curse. He was setting the tone. King Herod wanted to see Jesus perform a miracle. He brought  in Jesus around the time of his arrest. In Luke 23:8, "When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased because for a long time, he'd been wanting to see him.”  From what he'd heard about him, he hoped to see him perform some miracle.  Could you just do some kind of trick? Was he interested in the truth? Not at all. He wanted to see something spectacular. Jesus will not yield to this approach. He rejects their demand, but he doesn't leave them with nothing. He says, "I will not give a miraculous sign. None will be given it except... " Isn't that just like God? “I’m not going to do what you want, but I'm going to give you enough. I'm going to give you enough to believe. No miraculous sign will be done except the sign of the prophet Jonah.”  

The Final Sign: The Sign of Jonah

This is the final sign that God has given, not just to that generation, but to the entire world, to the human race, the sign of Jonah, which is resurrection from the dead. Jonah was the reluctant preacher to the Ninevites. God called on him to go preach to the Assyrians. He hated the Assyrians. He didn't want any part of that and ran the other way, got on a ship sailing from Jaffa and was heading out to Tarshish to flee from the Lord. You can't do that. I believe that Psalm 139 had already been written, "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there. If I go down to the depths, you are there." But Jonah tried to do precisely that, flee from the presence of the Lord, and God by a mighty hand compelled him to go and preach to the Ninevites, these wicked people, the Assyrians, the Nazis of the ancient world, a violent and cruel people.

 Jonah was thrown overboard.  "Take me and throw me overboard," he said. He was not afraid to die. That's not why he didn't want to go to Nineveh. He just hated the Gentiles. He hated them and did not want to see them converted. "Throw me overboard," and God ordained a huge fish, perhaps a whale, something to come swallow Jonah, and he was inside that fish three days and three nights. Now, what is the sign of Jonah? Well, as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man, that's Jesus, will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. What is it? It's preaching substantiated by a resurrection. It's not just the resurrection. How do we know that? Well, the very next thing that Jesus says, "The men of Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah and now one greater than Jonah is here." If Jonah had merely gone inside the fish and spat back out, that would not be enough. But he had a mission to fulfill and it was the proclamation of the message substantiated by this great sign, that is the sign of Jonah. "As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise, will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it for they repented at the preaching of Jonah and now one greater than Jonah is here.

It's fascinating to me how Jesus links his own resurrection to something as remarkable as Jonah being swallowed by a whale. Perhaps you've heard of Clarence Darrow, the ACLU lawyer who took on the Scopes Monkey Trial and made mincemeat of William Jennings Bryan at one of the most spectacular trials in the history of American jurisprudence. William Jennings Bryan was a fundamentalist, David, taking on the liberal Goliaths. He was at the end of his life; he literally died the next week after the trial. He put himself on the stand to be cross-examined by Clarence Darrow who was a slick city lawyer who had no faith at all and used to mock the Bible, specifically this story. He would say to some witness, "I could as easily believe that Jonah was swallowed by a whale, as to take in that story." Some liberals and others might think that this is a weak point of the Bible.  Could it really have happened that Jonah was physically swallowed by a whale? What is Jesus' attitude toward the Scripture? What is his attitude toward the historicity of this story? Shouldn't that settle it for us? Would he liken his physical bodily resurrection to a myth? To an allegory? To a metaphor? Not at all. Jonah was swallowed by the fish and spat out on the third day. Now when Jesus says, "As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” People have stumbled over that as well, and they said, "This must be an error." Jesus was crucified on a Friday, he's up on a Sunday. And so we celebrate worship on the first day of the week.  How is that three days and three nights? But they neglect that in the Jewish way of thinking, any part or portion of a day is called the day and a night. You say, "Well that doesn't make any sense." Well, if you own a rent-a-car company, it does. Have you ever gotten a car back an hour late? What do you charge for? A day and a night. They don't care. Ten minutes late and you get the whole day. It's all the same to them. Fact of the matter is Jesus links his physical bodily resurrection to what happened with Jonah and he says, "The Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth." Some say this testifies that Jesus went down to Hell and released spirits found in prison. I think it's basically saying that he'll be dead. Any more than that, I think the text would have to be supported by other places.   But the fact of the matter is Jesus says, "I'm going to be dead. So my death and my resurrection." That's the sign of Jonah. As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a large fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. So what is the sign? What did they get, that wicked and adulterous generation? They get the disciples on the day of Pentecost, standing up filled with the Holy Spirit and proclaiming and preaching in this way. Speaking of Jesus, Peter said, "This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge, and you with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross, but God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him." In  Acts 33: 2, "God has raised this Jesus to life, and we," [the apostles], "we are all witnesses of the fact." That's the sign of Jonah.

 In living color right in front of them, on the day of Pentecost, they get human messengers proclaiming an empty tomb that Jesus had physically risen from the dead. And what was Peter's application that day? The same as Jonah's when he preached it in Nineveh. Repent, repent repent. When they heard this, they were cut to the heart. This is the Pentecost, Acts 2, "They were cut to the heart and said, 'Brothers, what should we do?' And Peter and the other apostles, replied, 'Repent each one of you and believe in Jesus and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'" That's how the sign of Jonah works, physical evidence proclaimed by the apostles and then preached with a single application, "Repent that your sins might be removed." This is the sign of Jonah.  Without it, we have no message. We have nothing to say to the world. If the resurrection didn't occur, if Jesus never came up out of the tomb, we have no gospel at all. First Corinthians 15:14, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith." Then Jesus gives Jewish unbelievers a warning. He says, "The men of Nineveh will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah and now one greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here."

The fact of the matter is this generation would get the sign of Jonah and they would not repent. Instead, the Pharisees and teachers of the law would try to squelch the evidence. When the guards came and told what had happened, an angel came, moved the stone, we looked and he was gone. They didn't know what to do. They said, "Well, we'll pay you," and they paid money to the guards to say, "We fell asleep and the disciples came and stole the body." It doesn't make any sense. Guards set on guard duty are executed, not paid off. They knew there was nothing that they could say. They would not believe. The root issue is in their hearts. They would not accept the testimony of scripture, not just that they didn't understand from scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead, they would not accept. They rejected from scripture that Christ had to rise from the dead. Jesus told the parable about this, the rich man and Lazarus.  The rich man lived in luxury all the time and there was a poor man at his gate and he wouldn't help him. They died. The poor man Lazarus went up to Abraham's bosom, up to heaven, and the rich man is languishing in Hell, in torment. He asked Abraham, "Could you please send Lazarus to come dip his finger in the water and cool my tongue? Please." "No, we can't. We can't get to you. There's a great chasm here." "Well, could you send Lazarus back to my brothers to warn them so that they don't also end up in this place of torment? I have five brothers. Send them back." And Abraham replies, "They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them." Then comes the voice from Hell, "No, Father Abraham, that's not enough. We need more than the scripture. It's just not enough to have the Bible. We've got to have something else. They will believe if you send Lazarus. They'll listen."  And Abraham responds, "If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not listen even if someone rises from the dead." And so it happened. Jesus rose from the dead on the third day and sends forth witnesses to preach the fact, and they did not believe. Gentiles  repented at the preaching of Jonah. I mean, Jonah, hardly a paragon of virtue. Jonah, the one who's running away from God, they repented at his preaching. “I’m the incarnate Son of God and you won't repent. We have something greater than Jonah here. We have a greater message. 

A Sign to Our Generation

We have a greater Gospel message, don't we? A greater messenger. They had the rebellious Jewish prophet, Jonah. We get the incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ, with all of his miracles and a greater salvation. The Ninevites received a physical salvation from deliverance from all of their woes and griefs, perhaps in eternal salvation. We get eternal life, adoption into the family of God, a greater sign. Jonah was spat out of a whale. Jesus rose from the dead. In every way, something greater than Jonah is here. The  Queen of Sheba down in Southern Yemen traveled 1200 miles over burning sand with a huge caravan of spices and riches and other things. She was very wealthy, but she heard a reputation of a Jewish king who could answer hard questions and there was a hunger in her heart for wisdom.   She wanted to know. She was hungry for the truth. She travels about the distance from here to the Mississippi over burning sands to test Solomon with hard questions, ranging possibly from biology to botany, maybe mathematics, astronomy, certainly theology. There was nothing she asked that he couldn't answer. She was overwhelmed, astonished at the wisdom of Solomon. Nothing was too hard for him. And yet someone greater than Solomon is here now,  Jesus Christ. Solomon studied and described plant life, Jesus created it. Solomon's kingdom was physically wealthy beyond description, gold and silver as common as stones. Jesus has eternal wealth beyond any description. All things belong to him. Solomon's wisdom penetrated deep in dark mysteries and he wrote a thousand proverbs. Jesus is omniscient, infinite and perfect in wisdom. Solomon's glory was temporary and physical. Jesus' glory is eternal and spiritual and perfect in every way. Solomon worked his people close to death in building his great building projects. But Jesus' yoke is easy and his burden is light and He went to death for us. Solomon became an idolater and committed spiritual adultery like many of his generations, led astray by his wives. Jesus died for Solomon's sins. Solomon died and was buried and his kingdom shrank little by little until its glory was gone. Jesus died and was buried and raised on the third day, and his kingdom grows and has been growing for 2,000 years, and of the increase of his kingdom, there will be no end. One greater than Solomon is here now, Jesus Christ.

The Gentiles are going to condemn the Jewish unbelief. They're going to rise because everyone is going to rise. Jesus' resurrection is merely first fruits from the dead, but he has stated very clear in John chapter 5, "The time is coming when all who are in their tombs will hear his voice,” [Christ's voice], "and come out. Those who have done evil will rise to be condemned, and those who have done good will rise to live." Jesus is the judge. They will rise and the Ninevites, those Assyrians, and the queen of the South, will condemn Jewish unbelief because they repented far less than the gospel message through Jesus Christ. 

What do we get in our generation? Do we get the empty tomb? Well, yes and no. We don't get to go look at the empty tomb. We don't know where it is. We don't get the physical artifacts of Jesus' resurrection. What do we get? We get a gospel message. We get a preached message, what Paul calls the power of God and the wisdom of God proclaimed. 1 Corinthians 1:22 and following, "The Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” A power greater than Jonah's, a wisdom greater than Solomon's in Jesus Christ. The sign of Jonah continues to this very day, and those of you who are Christians know in your heart that God raised him from the dead on the third day and you're trusting it, aren't you? That some day because he lives, you also will live eternally.

Application

 Now what application can we take from this? First to the unbeliever, I wanna ask a simple question: What would it take to convince you that Jesus is God? Is not the proclamation that you've had this morning of the empty tomb of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, according to the Scriptures, enough to save your soul? What could be greater than that? To the evangelists among you which should be all of you, preaching the gospel, can I urge you to stick to the sign of Jonah? The fact that Jesus died on the cross and that he was raised from the dead on the third day according to the Scriptures. Can this not be the deposit entrusted to us that we get to proclaim to the ends of the earth, the empty tomb of Jesus Christ? 

 And to all of us who are believers, can we delight enough in Christ, is the power of God and the wisdom of God powerful enough to raise you from the dead, wise enough to sit on his throne and rule the universe forever? Christ is greater than Jonah. Christ is greater than Solomon, his kingdom greater, his wisdom greater. His promise is greater and it's our treasure. On that, we put our trust. What practical application can we take from this? Follow the example of the Ninevites. If you're a believer in Christ, can I urge you to repent? If you're not a believer in Christ, can I urge you to repent? 

 It's about repentance, isn't it? Not just the time you heard the Gospel preached the first time at the Billy Graham crusade and you walked forward. Not just then, but every day. Every time you hear the word preached, repent. Every time the Spirit convicts you of sin, repent. Be a lifetime repenter until he takes you home and glorifies you and you won't need repentance anymore. Repent like the Ninevites did. Ask the Lord to search you by his spirit and show you sin, and like the Ninevites. Repent and follow the example of the Queen of Sheba. She traveled over 1200 miles to look for wisdom, and you've got greater wisdom right here in the 66 books of the Bible. She's willing to get up and to load up a caravan and travel over the desert to get it. Are you willing to get up early in the morning, open the Bible, study it more than you have, memorize it, meditate on it, let it saturate your mind? Are you willing to do that? Follow the example of the Queen of Sheba. She traveled over land and sea to get the wisdom of Solomon, and one greater than Solomon lives inside you if you're a Christian.

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