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Matth.12:38-41 and 16:1-4

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: In the language of the Bible a sign can mean two things: a) something that goes with a covenant and proves that a certain person or group belongs to God’s people (the Sabbath, circumcision, baptism). Or it can mean b) a miracle by which God shows his power and might for men to see.
- If there was a situation in your life when you wanted to get a sign from God, when was it?
- Say with your own words: what does Jesus try to say to Pharisees through these two little speeches?

A wicked and adulterous generation
- What was the opinion of Jesus about the authenticity of the revival in Nineveh (41)?
- Compare the reaction of the people of Nineveh to Jonah’s preaching to the reactions of the Pharisees to the preaching of Jesus. Why the difference?
- Why do you think the reaction in our country to the teachings of Jesus is more like that of the Pharisees and not that of Nineveh?
- The Pharisees had already seen many miracles that Jesus had performed. Why did they want to see one more sign (12:38 and16:1)?
- What kind of sign would perhaps have made Pharisees convinced that Jesus was God?
- Why didn’t even the resurrection of Jesus make the Pharisees convinced that Jesus was God?
- What did Jesus mean by calling himself “something greater than Jonah”?

The sign
- In which situations do people usually ask for signs in our day, what kind of signs they ask and from whom?
- Why is it sometimes dangerous to make big decisions on the basis of a sign?
- What is the difference between “the sign of Jonah” and the signs people try to obtain for strengthening of their faith?
- How does “the sign of Jonah” contain God’s mercy?
- Where can our contemporaries come into contact with “the sign of Jonah”?
- In what way was Jonah’s sermon a sign for the people of Nineveh of God’s presence in their city?
- In which respect was Jonah’s journey to the bottom of the sea a prototype of a Christian baptism. See also Rom.6:3-5?
- On which grounds can we call the Holy Communion “the sing of Jonah”?
- Once more: why are the Bible, the Baptism and the Eucharist “the signs of Jonah”?
- Why must we not require any other sign for strengthening of our faith but “the sign of Jonah” (16:4)?
- Why will the final judgement of the Western countries be harder that that of non-Christian countries?
- How could we help to take the sign of Jonah to as many people as possible on this earth?

THE GOSPEL: The Christian baptism contains the death and resurrection of Jesus (Rom.6:3-5). The Eucharist does it, too. The death and resurrection of Jesus are the main theme in the whole Bible. If you ask how you can know that Jesus is God, the answer is: look at the sign of Jonah. If you ask, how you can know that Jesus loves you of all the people, the answer is: look at the sign of Jonah. That is why this one sign should be enough for you for all your life, even without any other signs.

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