Many people today desire for God to show them a sign. This is nothing new however, mankind has always been this way. Jesus was asked by the Pharisees to produce a sign (Matthew 12:38). He responds by rebuking their “evil” request and says that the only sign which will be given is the “sign of Jonah,” which meant that Jesus would be buried three days just as Jonah had been in the “sea creature” three days (12:39-40). Most Christians know the account of Jonah, and certainly the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Other than the relation of the “three days,” there are some additional fascinating correlations as well.
In Jonah’s prayer he said he had been cast into the “heart of the seas” (2:3). Jesus stated He would be in the “heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40). Next, Jonah mentions that “all Your breakers and billows passed over me,” and that he had been “expelled” from God’s sight” (2:3-4). While Christ was in the tomb, all the people of Jerusalem were living their lives as normal, passing over Him. He too had been expelled from everyone’s sight once that stone was rolled over the tomb. Jonah said, “weeds were wrapped around my head,” and that he had “descended to the roots of the mountains” (2:5-6). All the gospel accounts tell us that Jesus’ body was “wrapped” in linen cloth, and that His tomb had been cut out of the rock, which would have been the side of a mountain. Twice Jonah mentions God’s “holy temple” (2:4, 7). Also speaking of His body’s time in the tomb and ultimate resurrection, Jesus answered the Jews who were asking for a sign, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). He was the temple, because He was God in the flesh!
In His response to those Pharisees, Jesus spoke of how the people of Nineveh repented at Jonah’s preaching, and then He said, “behold, something greater than Jonah is here” (12:42). While in the fish Jonah prayed to the “LORD his God” (2:1). In reality, He was praying to the very one who would offer the “sign of Jonah” nearly eight centuries later as proof to the world that He was indeed the great I AM. Something greater than Jonah is here indeed!