Luke 11:29 – 36
The Sign of Jonah
29 When the crowds were increasing, he 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. 30For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be to this generation. 31The 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! 32The 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 Light of the Body
33 ‘No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar, but on the lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. 34Your eye is the lamp of your body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light; but if it is not healthy, your body is full of darkness. 35Therefore consider whether the light in you is not darkness. 36If then your whole body is full of light, with no part of it in darkness, it will be as full of light as when a lamp gives you light with its rays.’
The conflict is building – look back a moment: Jesus was accused of casting out evil spirits by the power of the devil himself; he has spoken about those whose evil spirits are exorcised by others and lack the presence of Christ in them to replace the evil. A woman has interrupted his talk with her shouting. And he has responded that the truly blessed are those who hear his word and obey it.
Now, Jesus turns on the unruly crowd, referring to them as “this generation”. These words work very well for preachers, down through the ages! For every generation is made up of imperfect human beings – and Jesus’ words to “this generation” can always apply! In this case, he says they have been asking for a sign – but the only sign they will receive is the “sign of Jonah”. Jonah appeared to the people of Ninevah, and they repented. But this was after Jonah had suffered in a storm, been thrown overboard, swallowed by a big fish, and three days later spit up alive on shore. Jesus says he will be a sign to “this generation”, as Jonah was; he will suffer on the cross, and die, and be buried in the tomb; but three days later he will arise, alive, and appear to the disciples. And his death and resurrection will be the sign that leads people to repentance and life. If not, the people of Ninevah, who responded to Jonah with repentance, will rise up at judgment day and condemn those who did not respond to Jesus, including “this generation”!
It is not just the hearing – the real question is, are lives changed by the hearing? Do those who do respond have Christ in their hearts and souls? The eyes are spoken of as the “window to the soul” – if that be the case, then the eyes are a lamp that shows the light of Christ, when Christ lights one’s soul. And so, if a person is truly filled with the love of Christ, then that love shows on their countenance, in their actions, in their eyes. But if that person is only pretending to be Christian, then all that is in them is darkness and you see no light in their eyes. And so, we are asked to be filled with light, to show the light of the Risen Christ in the lamp of our eyes.