While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them,
“This generation is an evil generation;
it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it,
except the sign of Jonah.
Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites,
so will the Son of Man be to this generation.
At the judgment
the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation
and she will condemn them,
because she came from the ends of the earth
to hear the wisdom of Solomon,
and there is something greater than Solomon here.
At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation
and condemn it,
because at the preaching of Jonah they repented,
and there is something greater than Jonah here.”
An evil generation. That just sticks with me. How can a generation be evil? And why would Jesus describe the current (at the time) generation evil? The people are asking for a sign because they do not truly want to believe Jesus. They are the doubting Thomas, asking for proof. In the back of my mind I am wondering what the difference is between this “evil” generation and poor Thomas. Was Thomas evil for wanting proof that his savior and lord was still alive? Are we evil if we begin to have doubts and ask God for signs or proofs? I’m not questioning my readers here, I am questioning in my heart. I believe this is one of those times where there is more behind Jesus’ meaning that it is not yet time for me to understand.
Jesus tells us that the only sign he will give is Jonah’s sign. What was Jonah’s sign? Jonah, our favorite friend of the whales. He journeyed, unwillingly at first, to the Ninevites to call them to repentance as God told him that the whole city was to be destroyed. It is no wonder that Jonah was a bit put out when God “changed” his mind when all of the Ninevites did repent and come back to God.
There are many parallels that Jesus is giving us to lead to his coming trials. For three days and nights Jonah was in the whale (or the belly of the sea-monster depending on your translation) just as Jesus was suffering after his crucifixion. Similarly, the Good News of Jesus’ return mirrors the good news that the repentance of the Ninevites heals their divide from God and saves them.
And who is this Queen of the South? This story comes to us from 1 Kings at the beginning of chapter 10. The Queen of the South travels a great distance to meet Solomon and to hear his wisdom. And what is Jesus telling us? There is something so much greater than Solomon here.
If we put it all together what is Jesus really telling us? Jonah was indignant after God’s compassion forgave the Ninevites. Why? Because he knew that God had such compassion for His people. He claimed that was why he wanted nothing to do with the ministry placed before him. In this way Jonah was made to be a sign for the Jews in that time that God’s love was for more than just the Jewish. He loves all of us. Even those of us that don’t accept His love.
What This Means To Me
When you really unpack this one I can just say one thing… wow. The evil generation wanted signs beyond the signs that Jonah gave. Jonah brought the Good News of God to the people of Ninevah. I think this is telling us that this should be enough. God in His goodness should be enough. “Testing” or asking God for “proof” of Himself or His love will likely be our downfall. Should knowing of the Good News be enough? No, I think Jesus’ mentioning of the Queen of the South should be a reminder that we need to seek the one out that is greater than Solomon. It is not enough to know of Jesus. We need to search him out. To bring ourselves closer to him. To recognize His goodness and compassion and love. Is it enough to call Him our Lord or our Savior if we do not follow in his path?
What do you get from this passage? What changes can you make in your life to bring this to the forefront?