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. Matthew 12:38-40
Throughout Jesus ministry he prophesied about his death and about his resurrection on the 3rd day. However the disciples never understood what he was talking about, they never seemed to grasp the idea that the Messiah had to die for the sins of the world. However almost everybody knows the story of Jonah, even people who are Atheists typically have heard the story of Jonah and the whale, it’s shocking that the Resurrection story of Christ has always been in the Sunday School story, just nobody could put it all together
The religious leaders demanded a sign from Jesus that He is the Messiah, well Jesus was given them the sign, the Resurrection! Christ retold the story of Jonah and the Whale, Jonah spent 3 days and nights in the belly of the whale, symbolic of the heart of the Earth. So if you want your sign, look at the Empty Tomb! The Tomb is still empty today because Christ Is Risen!
Now 3 days and 3 nights has been a controversial topic in Christianity, unfortunately. The real error comes when we try to read the Bible as a 21rst Century American. You need to read it as a 1rst Century Jew, 3 Days and 3 Nights is a Hebrew Idiom, does not mean a literal 72 hours. I know alot of English speaking Christians have a hard time comprehending this, but I would recommend you do a deeper study into that topic before reading it as a 21rst Century American
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. The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. Matthew 12:41-42
As Jesus said “ A greater Jonah is Here” The story of Jonah and the Whale was a foreshadow of the Resurrection of Christ and the New Covenant. Remember Nineveh was a Gentile nation, this is why Jonah didn’t want to go there and preach. But after Jonah preached repentance there and the Gentiles truly repented , God forgave them. This is a complete foreshadow of the New Covenant and the Resurrection of Christ
Next time you read the Sunday School story of Jonah and the Whale, think of Jesus, think about what he did for us on the cross to atone for our sins and the eternal resurrection on Easter Sunday morning! Amen!