Revealing the Sign: Insights from Luke 11

Luke 11:29-32

29 When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. 30 For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. 31 The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

Luke 11 contains some of the most astonishing and damning teachings of Jesus toward his own people in his day. A few verses before these, Jesus declared that the “clean” religious nature of Israel was just an absence of the actual Spirit of God. Spiritually desolate Israel was a clean house with a welcome mat laid out for invasion by a host of demons.

Now Jesus has the boldness to call his generation evil and subject to judgment by foreign Gentiles who had no benefit of the covenant that Israel possessed with God. These are earth-shaking prophesies being made by Jesus.

Jesus first references the sign of Jonah. Jonah was a prophet who rebelled against God and consequently ended up being swallowed by a fish. Three days later he was spit back on the beach….as if he had come back from the dead! This would be the sign given for Israel to see that Jesus is the anointed One of God.

The Ninevites, some of the most wicked people on earth, heard the “resurrected” prophet Jonah and they repented as a result of hearing. But Jesus’ own people would only harden their hearts when given the greatest sign.

The queen of the South, known also as the queen of Sheba, was a ruler from some distance away who brought gifts to Solomon because she heard that there was a king in Israel who possessed wisdom that only comes from Yahweh. Jesus, the descendant of Solomon, is the source of Solomon’s wisdom. He is wisdom personified. A foreign Gentile queen would have rejoiced to hear Jesus, but his people rejected him.

  • How do we know that Jesus had all of the nations of the world in mind for his plan of salvation?
  • Does your familiarity with Jesus lead you to hold him in contempt?
  • Who are the religious “outsiders”  today who have a clearer view of Jesus than the religious insiders?
  • How are you maintaining a soft heart of repentance and rejoicing toward Jesus even as you grow more familiar with being his people?