THE SIGN OF JONAH- Introduction
In Mark 8:11-13, Jesus tells the Pharisees that a wicked adulterous generation asked for a miraculous sign — they’re not going to get one. But in the parallel passage in Matthew 12:38-40, Jesus says that they will get a sign, that of His resurrection. Is this a contradiction?
THE SIGN OF JONAH- Seeming Contradictions
Consider these two sentences: “In America, there is no king.” “In America, everyone is king.” From a verbal standpoint on a superficial level, these two sentences are contradictory, but are they really? On closer examination it becomes clear that they really mean exactly the same thing. In America, there is no one person who is king over everyone else, because in America people govern themselves.
THE SIGN OF JONAH- Easy to Explain
Many alleged biblical contradictions are just as easy to explain. When Mark reports Jesus as saying that there would be no sign, and Matthew reports Jesus as saying that there would be no sign except His resurrection, the contradiction is in fact only an apparent contradiction and that only on a superficial level.
THE SIGN OF JONAH- Matthew’s Exception
The first thing that ought to be remembered is that, in both Matthew and Mark, Jesus says, “No sign will be given.” Matthew, of course, adds “except for the sign of Jonah,” or the sign of the resurrection. All he’s doing is giving us more complete detail — talk about straining at gnats! And don’t forget the context.
THE SIGN OF JONAH- The Real Meaning
What the Pharisees are asking Jesus to do is to produce a “sign-on-demand” at their beck and call. In both Matthew and Mark it is clear that Jesus was saying, “Forget it!” Now while Mark simply reports Jesus saying, in effect, “You’re not going to get the kind of sign you’re demanding,” Matthew adds, “You will get a sign, the sign of the resurrection.” Well there is really no contradiction whatsoever.
THE SIGN OF JONAH- The Honest Skeptic
The Bible is consistent, but it does not fit the standards of consistency demanded by those who only want to find fault with it. If you really want to find fault, I suppose you could always find a way, but if you’re an honest skeptic who is sincerely searching for truth, I guarantee one day, after close consideration, you will (as I do) bow in humble adoration to the majesty of both God and His word.
THE SIGN OF JONAH- Conclusion
You see, how is it possible for 40 men to write on hundreds of different subjects over 1600 years in different languages and on different continents with one central story without contradiction? That’s the real question.Did Jesus give a sign? Yes and no. That’s the CRI Perspective. I’m Hank Hanegraaff.