The Sign

The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Yeshua asking Him for a sign from heaven. The sign was required because it would help determine whether or not Yeshua was the promised Messiah. Once given, the sign would quiet any criticism and prove without doubt that He was the Anointed One.

The fact that the Pharisees and Sadducees came asking bears remarkable testimony.

More than a litmus test, the sign was crucial, especially for those who were responsible for announcing the Messiah's arrival. A sign from heaven would provide the Pharisees and Sadducees the "go ahead" to inform the faithful of the Messiah's arrival and identity.

But Yeshua was not going to give them a sign ... well, at least, not the sign they were looking for.

"Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, 'When it is evening you say, "It will be fair weather, for the sky is red"; and in the morning, "It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening." You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.

'A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Yonah.' And He left them and departed."
(Matthew 16:1-4)

The Messiah commended the Pharisees and Sadducees for their watchfulness - they looked for signs in the sky to predict changing weather, and they looked for signs to confirm the Coming of the Messiah - and He encouraged them to continue.

However, while they eagerly received the signs of the sky, to determine the weather, they failed to accept the signs in their day which clearly pointed to Him as being the Messiah. Furthermore, not only did they refuse to receive those particular signs, they insisted on looking for another.

While Yeshua had proven that He was the Messiah with signs from heaven - indeed, how could a man give sight to another who was born blind, unless that man be given the power by God to do so (see the book of John chapter nine) - yet such signs had been rejected by the Pharisees and Sadducees. Unfortunately, for the Jewish community their leaders preferred seeking and asking for another sign, a sign of their choice.

Notably, in this account, the Messiah exposes the evil intention of those who look for inappropriate signs. The Messiah does not castigate them because they are looking for a sign, but rather because they are seeking one that is not for them. "A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign" that does not belong to them. Consequently, the importance and relevance of the signs of their day were dismissed, lost at the expense of looking for other signs which were for a different time, and another generation.

The Messiah confirmed that the Pharisees and Sadducees would see a sign. Nevertheless, due to their attitude they would not expect it, and consequently would be unable to receive it.

Thus, even though they would see it, yet, they would not understand it to be - "a sign from heaven". The sign was of great significance because it was appropriate for the time, and their generation - it was "the sign of the prophet Yonah."

What was the sign of the prophet Yonah?

Yonah the righteous, died. He was raised from the dead, after being in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights.

Yonah the prophet foreshadowed the Messiah who, as the Righteous One, would give His life as an atonement for sin. Like Yonah, who was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights, so too, the Messiah would die and be in the grave three days and three nights. And like Yonah, the Messiah would be raised from the dead by the power of God.

This is the sign of which Yeshua the Messiah spoke, and which the Pharisees and Sadducees would witness.

Just as in Yonah's day, the good news was preached to the inhabitants of Nineveh, and they repented, and were saved from impending judgement, so too today, the good news of the Messiah is preached, and all who believe God and His Messiah, whether Jew or Gentile, will be delivered from the coming Judgement.

Yeshua the Messiah has come with signs from heaven. May there be many today who have the courage to hear Him, and follow after Him.

Mark Warren