Reading: Luke 11.29-32
When the crowds were increasing, Jesus began to say, ‘This generation is an evil generation; it asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be to this generation. The queen of the South will rise at the judgement with the people of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here! The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgement with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here!’
The readings in this week’s services of Daily Prayer are challenging. To begin to understand them we have to put them in context. That context is Jesus’ journey towards Jerusalem. In that context, Jesus’ journey is like a light moving forward through the darkness of this world.
Light scatters darkness as it bring hope and a sense of optimism. Light also symbolizes new life as it shows the darkness up for what it really is. As Jesus journeys towards Jerusalem he shines ever brighter with the light of God which will soon scatter and destroy the darkness for ever.
Today Jesus speaks of the sign of Jonah. The story of the reluctant Old Testament prophet is both short and well-known, if only for his sojourn in the belly of a fish for three days and three nights. But … in the midst of Jonah’s comical story there is an important message. Jonah obeyed the Lord’s command and he told the people of Nineveh of their need to repent. Despite Jonah’s scepticism, the power of the message got through and the heartfelt repentance of the people of Nineveh saved them from a terrible doom.
Of course, there is nothing comical about Jesus. In fact, his message of repentance is so much more powerful because of who he is. Jesus’ message of repentance is one that is being uttered by someone whose wisdom far surpasses that of Solomon. But … Jerusalem proved itself far less wise than ancient Nineveh. It ignored Jesus’ words; the people did not repent.
In this week’s reading, as Jesus is continuing his journey toward Jerusalem and all the events of Holy Week and Easter, we are being invited to follow the light which Christ bears. We are being invited to repent and follow the light which illuminates God’s path through the darkness of this world. We are also being invited to become, like Jonah, bearers of God’s light into the most unlikely corners of this cynical and dark world.
The question Jesus is asking us is simple: Are we ready to go on the journey with him?