In the face of such powerful warnings, the scribes and Pharisees still remained unconvinced.  They are polite enough to give to Jesus the title of “Master,” but they demand a sign from Him, as if He had not already produced enough evidence to cause them to believe.  But Christ did not feel Himself obliged to work a miracle to convince the unbelief of every skeptic.  The most eminent of God’s saints are those who have not seen, and yet believe His word.  It is an evil and adulterous generation which seeks after a sign.  This was the condemnation of the Jews in Christ’s day.  As Paul said to the Corinthians, “The Jews require a sign.”  Though Christ worked hundreds of signs among them, they believed not, because there is no sign that will transform the heart of stone into a heart of flesh.  Miracles do not save, but the preaching of the Gospel of the cross in the power of the Holy Spirit will. 

Christ gave them no such sign as they desired, but pointed them to their history, to a figure which foreshadowed the greatest sign of all that He was the Messiah.  He points them to Jonah, the great prophet who preached judgment against Nineveh, which occasioned the repentance of that wicked city, and a postponement of their destruction.  But before that great man could bring his message to the Assyrian capital, he sought to flee from God.  God, we know, sent a storm after him, and ultimately left the sailors no choice for survival but to throw the rebellious prophet overboard.  “But God prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah,” and he lived three days and three nights in the belly of that sea monster until being vomited out on the dry land, to go accomplish the mission he had sought to avoid.  This, Christ informs His detractors, was a picture of the Messiah, Who would lie three days and three nights in the heart of the earth, having been taken and slain by wicked hands.  He further extends the analogy of Jonah, reminding his hearers that the Ninevites repented when the prophet preached impending judgment.  Yet, His generation did not believe the Messiah when He came!  How much greater, then, would be the condemnation of Jesus’ age than that the condemnation of the Assyrians!  “A greater than Jonas is here,” Christ said, and truly our Lord excelled that mighty prophet in every way.  Whereas Jonah was obedient to God only under compulsion, every facet of Christ’s being was in submission to the will of the Father.  Whereas Jonah came only preaching destruction and judgment, Christ “came not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”