1. Sign: This word does not simply mean miracle, since Jesus had already supplied many of them, it must refer to some assurance or authentication that Jesus is truly from God. Around the year AD 45, man called Theudas arose claiming to be the Messiah. He persuaded the people to follow him out to the Jordan with the promise that he would cleave the river in two and give them a pathway through it to the other side. He failed miserably and was dealt severely by the Romans. People expected Jesus to perform some feats of this sort.
2. Evil and Adulterous generation – the term is used as a metaphor to describe infidelity with respect to God. God’s relationship with his people is that of a marriage covenant (Hos 1-3, Is 57:3, Jer 3:9)
3. Sign of Jonah: According to St. Luke, the sign of Jonah is Jesus’ preaching of repentance to the marginalized as Jonah preached to the Pagan people of Nineveh, with reference to death and resurrection. The point in common is return to life after apparent/real death not so much to do with the number of days (three days and night in the belly of the fish and three days in the tomb).
4. The Pagan Ninevites who repented at Jonah’s preaching will condemn people of Jesus’ generation for their failure to repent in response for Jesus’ preaching. They repented even though they were pagans and had a lesser preacher (Jonah)
5. Queen of South: Queen of Sheba (Saba in South West Arabia) came to hear Wisdom of Solomon from a great distance, People of Jesus’ own generation failed to respond to his preaching to them.
Asking for a proof or a sign is a very normal thing. The world is full of signs and miracles which our Lord Jesus performs every moment but we fail to take notice of it. If something bad happens we blame it on God and if something good happens we think, it is by chance. We are in no way different from people who lived in Jesus milieu. When sometimes we see the people of other religions praying in our Churches with deep reverence, it make us bit uncomfortable and Jesus tell us today that the people who have faith in Him irrespective of their religion will be the first ones to taste salvation. It naturally leaves a warning for us Christians who take salvation for granted!
Sacra Pagina Series
Life Application Commentary
William Barclay’s Commentary