Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Matthew 12:39-42
(39) But he answered them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
(40) For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
(41) 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.
(42) The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.

A reading of the Old Testament will show that there were three main offices in Israel -- prophet, priest, and king. Jesus is saying that He fulfilled all of these. This has huge implications for us as Christians. We don't have to submit to the temple system anymore. There are millions of Jews who reject Jesus as Messiah, but they don't have anywhere else to go. The temple has been gone for over 1939 years. We have Jesus who is greater than any of the prophets, priests, or kings.

This fills me with great hope. However, this passage also confused me for a long time because of how Jesus draws on the story of Jonah. Jesus died on a Friday and was buried. He rose again on Sunday. How is that three days?

The explanation is that the Jews reckoned time differently than we do. They would have considered a partial day to still be a "day." Therefore, there is no problem with this. I mention this only because I think it underscores the value of some level of background study. How are we to understand Scripture rightly unless we know this about first-century Jews?


Ken Summerlin said...

I wonder how much of the full meaning of scripture that we "miss" because of our ignorance of the background information to which you refer? That, I think, is the source of my hunger to know more.

Jason said...


Thanks for stopping by and commenting! I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. Personally, I am trying to figure out where I land on all of this. On one hand, I see how background information adds richness to our understanding of the text. On the other hand, I can't believe that God would keep the text obscure until archaeology discovered some of these things.

I think that the text alone is sufficient. However, I also know that background information adds a certain depth to my understanding as well. I'm not going to stop learning background information, but I'm also not going to rely on it as the key to my understanding of the text either.

Ken Summerlin said...

I'm with you on the thought that God will not obscure the truth of His Word in history that we don't know. I think of it like peeling back layers and discovering more and more.