Sign, sealed, delivered – Monday, 28th week in ordinary time – Luke 11: 29-32

Luke reveals his artistry as he creates unity of this passage by linking disparate passages in verses 14-36. These are based on controversies about the source of Jesus’ kingdom power. In verse 16 preceding this text the religious establishment asks for a sign from heaven to test him; in reality they did not care for any sign but simply wanted Jesus to submit to their seal of authority. They dare to say they just need to see more but the truth is that they had already observed several miracles and did not believe.

Their demands are flatly turned down for the very Word of God had come to them and they and showed how little they desired it. So Jesus contrasts the Jewish leadership with two examples; both of whom are pagan in origin and who were considered outsiders but both of whom were able to read the signs of the time and accept the truth unlike the Jewish authorities.  Even though God had revealed so much to the chosen people of Israel these who knew so little were the ones who were responsive.

The first is the example of Jonah. Jonah was an Old Testament prophet who lived nearly 800 years before Christ and was sent to a pagan people in Nineveh, adjoining the current city of Mosul in Iraq. Jesus is contrasting the people of Nineveh with the people of His generation.

In the Gospel of Matthew, the ‘sign’ Jesus refers to is the mysterious sign of Jonah in the whale’s belly. Luke’s focus is quite different. It has to do with Jonah’s preaching of God’s word as the sign of repentance that was preached to the people which as a  consequence led to repentance. The people of Jesus’ generation don’t and didn’t. repent. They were not showing hearts of receptivity but of resistance. It becomes so clear that they weren’t looking for a reason to believe, they were looking for a reason NOT to believe.

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