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Sunday, July 30, 2017

posted Jul 30, 2017, 8:52 PM by Site Administrator

NONE WILL BE GIVEN IT EXCEPT THE SIGN OF JONAH

 

Luke 11:29-36

Key Verse 11:29

 

As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.

 

First, “None will be given it except the sign of Jonah” (29-32). Look at verse 29. Let’s read this verse together:

 

As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.”

 

When the crowds increased, it seemed that Jesus should be happy. But, instead, Jesus said of them, “This is a wicked generation.” We are really shocked. The whole reason why Jesus was not happy with them was because they asked him for a miraculous sign. Already God had made his message clear to them through Jesus; then, it was their turn to respond to God’s messages by repenting and making a heart’s determination that they would truly worship God and live for Him alone. But they did not do anything; instead, they asked Jesus for a miraculous sign. God did so much for them, even sending his Son to show them what He wanted them to do. Yet, instead of accepting God’s will, they demanded that God do more to convince them. They were wicked people.

 

Sign seeking is a good excuse to many people. They say, “Show me God, and I will believe.” Many Christians say, “I don’t know what God wants me to do. If God appears to me, and tells me what to do, I will do it.” With this, they reject all the words of God they have read and studied. With this, they reject God’s efforts to guide them through his servants. They believe in God, gathering around Jesus, but he says of them, “This is a wicked generation.” These people come to church and say that they believe in Jesus, but they live as endless wanderers on earth, without knowing what to live for and die for. They are the very ones who reject God in their real lives.

 

To all these people who are not willing to accept God’s will, who are not willing to commit themselves to God, but ask God for a miraculous sign, Jesus says, “None will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” No exciting or fantastic sign will be given them, except the sign of Jonah. The only sign that is available for these people is the sign of Jonah. If they accept this sign, they will find everything and they will no longer wander; instead, they will live for God. Otherwise, they will perish, remaining as wicked people, ever wondering what they must really pursue.

 

Then, what is the sign of Jonah? Jonah was a prophet to the enemy nation of Assyria eight centuries before Christ. At that time, the Assyrian Empire was rising, and the Northern Kingdom of Israel was oppressed by her. Now, God was going to destroy Nineveh, the capital city of the Assyrian Empire because of their sins. It was good news to all Israel people, but God called Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach the message of God’s judgment. It was bad news to Jonah. He did not want to help the Ninevites to repent, so that they might be destroyed. He was a nationalist. But eventually, Jonah accepted this mission, and went to the city of Nineveh reluctantly. The city was very big, and required three days’ visit. On the first day, Jonah proclaimed, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.” What a message it was! It was not eloquent, not logical, and without any sense of humor! Jonah’s real purpose was that none of the Ninevites would respond to his message so that all of them might be destroyed by God. But since he had to obey God’s will, he was just doing his minimum obligation. He did not work hard to persuade them; he did not invite them to one to one Bible study with him; he did not rebuke them for their sin problems either. He did not deliver passionate messages. But simply, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.”

 

Jonah was the sign of God to the Ninevites. This sign was not fantastic; it was not impressive. The sign of God for the Ninevites was a reluctant Bible teacher who delivered God’s words very simply. The sign of God for the Ninevites was a heartless Bible teacher who did not have any desire to help them.

 

But how did the people of Nineveh respond to Jonah, the sign of God? Jonah 3:5 reads: “The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the great general to the least, put on sack cloth.” Amazingly, they accepted Jonah as God’s messenger; they accepted the sign of God, Jonah, and repented. There was a great repentance movement. Not only so, when king heard about this, he issued the proclamation of a national fasting and repentance in Nineveh, saying, “Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” When God saw this, he had compassion on them and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened. (Jonah 3:3-10)

 

When people asked him for a miraculous sign, something fantastic and exciting, Jesus said to them, “None will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” God gave them the sign of Jonah with which they could believe in God and turn to God for salvation and God’s blessing. The miraculous sign that would be given to them was the sign of Jonah, a Bible teacher. Jesus said to them, “For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation.” Jesus teaching the Bible to the people of Israel was the sign of God for them – Jesus was the sign of Jonah to the people of Israel. With this, Jesus showed them his heart’s complete determination that he would just focus on teaching and preaching the word of God. To those who were not wholehearted and to those who did not believe, but asked for some fantastic signs, no sign was given except the sign of Jonah, a humble looking Bible teacher. Those who accepted this humble looking Bible teacher as the sign of God would experience God’s salvation, see what God wanted them to do, and how they must live their life; but those who rejected this sign of God for them and kept looking for more fantastic signs from God, would remain as wicked people, and they would be condemned and destroyed. “It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.”

 

What is God’s sign for us? It is the sign of Jonah, a humble insignificant looking Bible teacher. God has given each one of us his sign, the sign of Jonah. When we are willing to accept God’s will for us, we can see God’s sign, the sign of Jonah all the time – God has been speaking to us through his messengers, Bible teachers. Unlike Jonah who had no compassion for the Ninevites, who even wished that the Ninevites would not respond to his message, our Bible teachers are so compassionate, enthusiastic, and wholehearted. Are you still looking for God’s sign? The sign of Jonah has been given to you. Those who humble themselves and accept this sign as the sign of God will be saved, and they will see everything clearly – their Bible teacher, the sign of Jonah for them delivers God’s message to them, showing them what God wants them to do and how they must live their life.

 

Jesus’ resolution gives us the confidence of what we are doing as Bible teachers and shepherds. We are God’s servants, sent to college students as the sign of Jonah. We just diligently teach our students the word of God. Those who accept us find God’s salvation and a new life in Jesus Christ, but those who reject us reject God Himself. Now our struggle is that somehow we may present ourselves in the best way acceptable so that our students may have a better chance to respond to the sign of God. Thus comes our struggle of sharpening our Bible study notes and presenting God’s words with great insight and spirit.

 

In verses 31 and 32, Jesus talks about two cases in which people responded to the sign of Jonah, a Bible teacher, very well – the Queen of the South and the Ninevites. Look at verse 31. Let’s read this verse together:

 

31The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.

 

King Solomon was the sign of Jonah, a Bible teacher who taught the way of the Lord. The Queen of the South, when she heard about Solomon’s wisdom, made a long journey from modern day Sudan in Africa to Jerusalem with all kinds of precious gifts for him, because she wanted to hear from him directly. She valued Solomon’s wisdom so highly, worthy of her time, money and efforts. Compared to Jesus’ wisdom, Solomon’s wisdom was nothing. Had she been in Jesus’ time, and heard about him, surely, she would have made a journey even from the ends of the earth to see Jesus and enjoy his words. But the people of Israel did not make any effort to come to Jesus even though he was living among them; they did not bring any gifts to him either; even after having heard many of his messages, they eventually, all rejected them. At the judgment, the Queen of the South will rise and testify against them, saying, “What’s wrong with you? You are really wicked.” At her testimony against them, they will be completely silenced.

 

Look at verse 32. Let’s read this verse together:

 

32The men of Nineveh 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.

 

Jesus’ Bible study was really amazing; each Bible study was an eye-opening event. His messages contained the divine truth of God’s kingdom. He was far greater than Jonah, in compassion for people, in zeal to fulfill God’s mission, in love for suffering people, in understanding God’s will. But strangely, these people did not respond to Jesus and his message very well. How will the people of Nineveh consider them? At the judgment, they will rise and condemn them, saying, “Even Jonah’s simple message was enough for us to accept God and repent. But how come you didn’t accept Jesus and his message?”

 

We live in the New Testament period, in which the 66 books of the Bible have been completed, and God’s will have been made clear. Now we live in the era of the Holy Spirit. And God has sent us so many Bible teachers – high school teachers who prayed for us and shared the gospel with us, pastors in the local churches or through the Christian radio station, and finally even our own personal Bible teachers. Indeed, God has made great efforts to help us accept his will. Then, if we don’t accept God’s will upon our life in this blessed time, what kind of excuse can we make at the judgment day? For the Queen of the South, Solomon’s Proverbs and Ecclesiastes were enough to acknowledge God. For the people of Nineveh, even a heartless Bible teacher, Jonah was enough. Jesus says, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” It is time for us to open our hearts and respond to God’s messages given through his messengers, accepting God’s will upon our life.

 

Second, “Your eye is the lamp of your body” (33-36). Look at verse 33. Let’s read this verse together:

 

No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.

 

People were asking for a miraculous sign, something obvious so that they could believe. But God’s sign for them is the sign of Jonah, a humble and insignificant looking Bible teacher. At first glance, by not giving any miraculous signs, it seems that God is hiding the truth so that the majority of people cannot see the truth and be blessed. But that’s not the case. God would never light the lamp and put it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. God wants to reveal himself fully to everyone so that all people can be blessed. For this purpose, he gives them the sign of Jonah, a Bible teacher. The sign of Jonah is a great sign with which you can truly believe in God. This was Jesus’ logic of why he would not give them any fancy miracles, but that he would just focus on teaching the word of God. We are a little confused here, but this is what we have witnessed all the time. Through miraculous signs, people hardly are changed – with miraculous signs they experienced in their life, people are amazed, and thereby, are very passionate for a while; but sooner or later, they remain the same, no fundamental changes in their life. But through one to one Bible study, when people accept the sign of Jonah, their life changes completely. Pleasure seeking people become holy servants of God. Selfish people become sacrificial shepherds and shepherdess. Drug addicts with many demons become powerful preachers and disciple makers. Lowly, nameless students become world-class spiritual leaders. The reason God gives people no miraculous sign but the sign of Jonah, is not so that God can hide the light, but reveal it fully.

 

Then, how come, so many people have failed to see this sign? Look at verse 34. Let’s read this verse together:

 

Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness.

 

Here, “your eye” refers to “your vision” or “your perspectives” or simply, “how you see or perceive.” God gives us the sign of Jonah, a humble and insignificant looking Bible teacher, and now it’s all up to how we see this sign. If we ignore this sign because it looks so insignificant, then, nothing happens in our life, and we are still in darkness, in confusion, in loneliness, in depression, and anxiety, and in sorrow. When people have that kind of casual view of those who bring God’s words to them, their whole life is full of darkness.  But if you have a good eye, if you respond to the sign of Jonah with faith, saying, “God sent me a Bible teacher, even my own personal Bible teacher to help me and guide me?!!! God really knows me. He has heard my prayer.” There, your eyes are opened to God’s love for you. You realize that you are not abandoned, but you have been loved by God all the time. There, all your bitterness and sorrows that have been built up in your heart melt away and, thanks and love for God fill your heart; you become a happy person, God’s beloved child in Jesus Christ. When your eyes are good, your whole body, your whole life, your whole person will be full of light.

 

Jesus says in verse 35, “See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.” Here, “the light within you” refers to what you are convinced of, what you think you really know of, or what you think right. Some people have a bad perspective, and they are confident of it, saying, “I prayed for something very important, but God has never answered me. He does not care for me.” Some people say, “No one loves me. I am all alone.” With this, they develop bitterness and resentment toward everyone in their life. The light within them is darkness; as a result, they are cold, bitter, and angry – they are really crooked. Because the light within them is darkness, their whole person, their whole life is ruined. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. So many people live in hell because the light within them is actually darkness. How important it is to have the good eye, good perspectives! Let’s read verse 34 one more time.

 

Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness.

 

How are your eyes? How are your perspectives? Are they good? Are they bad? See everything with absolute trust in God’s goodness and love for you. God has sent his servant to you to save you from your sin, and to guide you and give you a new and wonderful life in Jesus Christ. God loves you. See everything with faith in God. Don’t give into your sense of betrayal; don’t give into your bitterness; don’t give into darkness; instead, respond to God’s love with all your heart, and your whole person will be full of light.

 

Look at verse 36. Let’s read this verse together:

 

Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you.

 

Here, Jesus’ emphasis is on “the whole body full of light” and thereby, “no part of it dark.” We must have good perspectives so that our whole person, our whole life may be full of light. We have responded to God’s love for us; as a result, we have experienced God’s salvation from our sins and we started a new life. The light has come to us, and now we have learned and developed godly perspectives, godly hopes, godly value system and godly lifestyles. We are now different from the world; we are not of the world any longer. Indeed, we have changed greatly. But even if we are changed a lot, even if we have responded to God’s love, even if we are dedicated to God’s will and purpose, still in some area, in some matter, we hold onto our old views and desires, refusing to surrender everything to God. As a result, our whole person is not full of light yet; instead, still part of it is dark. For some people, it is their marriage matter – they put so much hope on it, insisting their own desires and dreams; as a result, they have no freedom, but they are fearful, thinking what if, what if; when we think about this matter carefully, we can see that it is actually unbelief. For some other people, it is their career dream, insisting a certain job, and pursuing it continually; they must put their hope in God who can give them more than they can imagine, instead of putting their hope in a job. For some others, it is their spiritual ambition in God, always being concerned about my sheep, my fellowship, and my disciples, instead of being concerned about God’s work and God’s church; we are not here to reveal our name as great servants of God, but to reveal God’s name, and for that, we must be willing to lay down our life, willing to live as nameless servants in the background.

 

Jesus’ desire is that we may be fully evangelized 100% inside and out, completely dedicated to God, not only just working hard for God, but also completely surrendering ourselves to His way, His will, and His people. When we are fully evangelized, and when we withhold nothing from God, when we are fully offered to God, we are completely sanctified, and we are strong, not vulnerable to the enemy’s attack at all; instead, we can do whatever God wants us to do in any circumstances. Then, God can use us for his purpose freely. Jesus prays that God may protect us from the evil one by sanctifying us, by setting us aside for Him alone. (Jn 17) At that time, God’s light shines on you brightly. Jesus says, “If your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you.”

 

One Word:      God’s Light Shines On You

 

 

 

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