Luke 11:29–32 ESV
When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. 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.
Jesus attracted lots of window shoppers but few buyers. It explains why he would say such a thing to a growing crowd, calling them a wicked generation. Crowds want to be impressed. They want a sign. Why is that so wicked? Think back. That’s actually what Satan asked Jesus for in the desert. He wanted a sign that Jesus was who he said he was.
Jesus, steeped in Scripture as he was, dials up Jonah. What is the meaning of the sign of Jonah? Jonah preached to the wicked generation in Ninevah, and they repented. They not only heard the word of God, but they obeyed it.
Jesus is growing weary of the crowds. They want signs, more revelation. Jesus is looking for repentance.
Jonah offers another sign. He was in the belly of the great fish for three days, and soon we will witness the great sign of the third day: the resurrection.
As we get nearer to Jerusalem, things are going to heat up. We will be surprised at who hears Jesus’ words and steps out of the crowd to heed his invitation. They will show us what repentance looks like. So often we think repentance needs to be some dramatic sin we need to cease doing or some kind of bad behavior we need to turn away from. To be sure, that may be the case. For many, if not most, of you who are reading the Daily Text, this is probably not the case. Far more likely is this slipping into and out of the crowd. Faith is neither hot nor cold, but somewhere in between. Rather than some clear-cut form of behavior modification, what may be called for is a bold run toward Jesus. The gravity of the crowd is strong. It will take an escape velocity fueled by the Holy Spirit to break free. What might it look like to risk in these days of Lent? What might it look like to quietly leave the crowd and find a closer walk with Jesus?
As we near Jerusalem, we must think of repentance in terms of who we are running to more than what we turn away from. It’s time to flip repentance.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a son/daughter.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a saint.
How is repentance in your life taking the shape of what you are running toward? How strong is the gravity of the lukewarm crowd in your present life and faith?
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