Well another Memorial Day weekend is behind us. We head back to work. We put away the grill, and the flags hanging. We remember. We often spend time with friends and family, or visiting the cemetery. We get back to our regular routine.
And what a routine it is. It is a challenging world out there. This “adulting” thing is really for the birds. Is it just me or are things getting harder? Not easy to make ends meet. Not easy to be faithful to the promises we have made. Just not easy.
The storm clouds to Jesus’ ministry are beginning to gather, and things are getting dicey for Jesus. In Matthew’s passage today, Jesus invokes the name of Jonah, drawing a parallel to his life. He is speaking to the scribes and Pharisees, who are demanding a sign from Jesus. He says, “No sign will be given…except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days and three nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth.”
To speak of Jonah is to really rub the Pharisees raw. Jesus had just spoken about how perplexed he was that the words and deeds of the Pharisees did not match. He warned them, called them names, and spoke of the day of judgment. Now he turns to Jonah, whose half-hearted preaching turned an entire city to repent. To repent at the words of Jonah is one thing. To have evil in the midst of folks who claim to be so great is another thing.
But Jesus goes further, declaring that “something greater than Jonah is here,” and later “something greater than Solomon is here!” He speaks of himself as this greatness.
It is no wonder the teachers of the Law turned against him. He threatened their authority and questioned their authenticity. But lest we turn our hearts to stone for the Pharisees, we must remember that it is easy for us – we have the perspective of seeing him die on a cross and rise again. The Pharisees are simply reminders to us of the difficulty and strength it will take to believe and follow Christ.
These are not easy times. Challenges are all around us. Being a Christian is arguably harder today that it has been in recent history. And we must struggle every day for our words and deeds to match.