The sign of Jonah (Lk 11:29-11:29)

“When the crowds

Were increasing,

Jesus began to say.

‘This generation

Is an evil generation.

It asks for a sign.

But no sign

Will be given to it,

Except the sign of Jonah.’”

 

Τῶν δὲ ὄχλων ἐπαθροιζομένων ἤρξατο λέγειν Ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη γενεὰ πονηρά ἐστιν· σημεῖον ζητεῖ, καὶ σημεῖον οὐ δοθήσεται αὐτῇ εἰ μὴ τὸ σημεῖον Ἰωνᾶ.

 

Luke said that the crowds were increasingly pressing (Τῶν δὲ ὄχλων ἐπαθροιζομένων) around Jesus.  Thus, he began to talk (ἤρξατο λέγειν).  He said that this generation was an evil generation (Ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη γενεὰ πονηρά ἐστιν).  They seek signs (σημεῖον ζητεῖ), but no sign will be given to them (καὶ σημεῖον οὐ δοθήσεται αὐτῇ), except the sign of Jonah (εἰ μὴ τὸ σημεῖον Ἰωνᾶ).  This seeking of signs was common among all the synoptic gospel writers, Matthew, chapter 12:38-39, Mark, chapter 8:11-12, and Luke, here.  Matthew said that the Scribes and Pharisees wanted a sign rather than the vague “they” here in Luke.  They called Jesus a teacher or rabbi (Διδάσκαλε).  They wanted to see a sign from Jesus (θέλομεν ἀπὸ σοῦ σημεῖον ἰδεῖν).  Mark said that Jesus was not going to give them any sign at all.  He said that Jesus sighed deeply in his spirit.  He asked them why was this generation seeking a sign?  With a rare solemn proclamation in Mark, Jesus told them point blank that no sign would be given to this generation.  Sometimes miracles were considered heavenly signs, but Mark continued to call miracles works of power and not signs, as other gospel writers sometimes referred to them.  Are you always looking for signs from heaven on what to do?

The curse on Chorazin and Bethsaida (Lk 10:13-10:13)

“Woe to you!

Chorazin!

Woe to you!

Bethsaida!

If the deeds

Of power

Done in you

Had been done

In Tyre

And Sidon,

They would have repented

Long ago,

Wearing sackcloth

And sitting in ashes.”

 

Οὐαί σοι, Χοραζείν, οὐαί σοι, Βηθσαϊδά· ὅτι εἰ ἐν Τύρῳ καὶ Σιδῶνι ἐγενήθησαν αἱ δυνάμεις αἱ γενόμεναι ἐν ὑμῖν, πάλαι ἂν ἐν σάκκῳ καὶ σποδῷ καθήμενοι μετενόησαν.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that both Chorazin (Οὐαί σοι, Χοραζείν) and Bethsaida (οὐαί σοι, Βηθσαϊδά) should be cursed.  Jesus said that if the deeds of power or the miracles done among them would have had been done (ὅτι εἰ…ἐγενήθησαν αἱ δυνάμεις αἱ γενόμεναι ἐν ὑμῖν) in Tyre (ἐν Τύρῳ) and Sidon (καὶ Σιδῶνι), they would have repented or had a change of heart (μετενόησαν) long ago (πάλαι), wearing sackcloth (ἂν ἐν σάκκῳ) and sitting in ashes (καὶ σποδῷ καθήμενοι).  This is similar to Matthew, chapter 11:20-21, indicating a possible common Q source.  Matthew indicated that Jesus denounced or reproached these various Galilean towns where he had worked his powerful miracles of healing and curing.  Jesus was upset that despite his many miracles, these towns had not repented of their evil ways.  Jesus complained about two particular towns, Chorazin (Χοραζείν), that was about 3 miles north of Capernaum, and Bethsaida (Βηθσαϊδάν), about 5 miles north of Capernaum on the northern tip of the Sea of Galilee.  All these towns were fairly close together.  Jesus’ reproach started with a typical prophetic curse of “woe to you” (Οὐαί σοι), especially used by Isaiah.  Jesus also mentioned the Phoenician Mediterranean cities of Tyre and Sidon that Isaiah, chapter 23:1-12, and many of the other prophets had wailed against.  Jesus said that if these same miraculous deeds had taken place in these two coastal cities, they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes, something that Chorazin and Bethsaida had not done.  What kind of town do you live in?

Jesus’ fame increases (Lk 7:17-7:17)

“This word

About Jesus

Spread through out

Judea

And all the surrounding country.”

 

καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ὁ λόγος οὗτος ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ Ἰουδαίᾳ περὶ αὐτοῦ καὶ πάσῃ τῇ περιχώρῳ.

 

Thus, it was not unexpected that Luke said that the word or this report about Jesus spread (καὶ ἐξῆλθεν ὁ λόγος οὗτος) throughout Judea (ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ Ἰουδαίᾳ) and all the surrounding country (καὶ πάσῃ τῇ περιχώρῳ), a common comment after most miracles that Jesus performed.  Jesus was in Nain, Galilee when he performed the miracle of raising this anonymous widow’s only son from the dead, yet even Judea knew about it.  This whole incident was unique to Luke and not found among the other gospel writers.  How do you spread the word about Jesus?

They try to kill Jesus (Lk 4:29-4:29)

“They got up.

They drove Jesus

Out of town.

They led him

To the ridge

Of the hill

On which their town

Was built.

They wanted

To hurl him

Off the cliff.”

 

καὶ ἀναστάντες ἐξέβαλον αὐτὸν ἔξω τῆς πόλεως, καὶ ἤγαγον αὐτὸν ἕως ὀφρύος τοῦ ὄρους ἐφ’ οὗ ἡ πόλις ᾠκοδόμητο αὐτῶν, ὥστε κατακρημνίσαι αὐτόν·

 

Luke alone said that they acted out their anger.  They got up (καὶ ἀναστάντες) from the synagogue.  They drove Jesus out of town (ἐξέβαλον αὐτὸν ἔξω τῆς πόλεως).  They led him to the top or the ridge of the hill (καὶ ἤγαγον αὐτὸν ἕως ὀφρύος τοῦ ὄρους) on which their town was built (ἐφ’ οὗ ἡ πόλις ᾠκοδόμητο αὐτῶν).  They wanted to hurl him off the cliff (ὥστε κατακρημνίσαι αὐτόν).  One problem is that Nazareth was a flat town with no hills or cliffs.  Some commentators say that they meant to stone him, but the text does not say that.  However, they did not like his teachings about going to non-Jewish people and not doing any miracles in his home town.

They went out to preach everywhere (Mk 16:20-16:20)

“They went out.

They proclaimed

The good news

Everywhere.

The Lord worked

With them.

He confirmed

Their message

By the signs

That accompanied it.”

 

ἐκεῖνοι δὲ ἐξελθόντες ἐκήρυξαν πανταχοῦ, τοῦ Κυρίου συνεργοῦντος καὶ τὸν λόγον βεβαιοῦντος διὰ τῶν ἐπακολουθούντων σημείων.

 

The climax to this long ending of Mark showed what the disciples of Jesus did after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus.  They went out (ἐκεῖνοι δὲ ἐξελθόντες) and preached everywhere (ἐκήρυξαν πανταχοῦ).  The Lord worked with them (τοῦ Κυρίου συνεργοῦντος), as he confirmed their message (καὶ τὸν λόγον βεβαιοῦντος) by the signs that accompanied them (διὰ τῶν ἐπακολουθούντων σημείων).  The followers of Jesus went about preaching the good news all over the place, while Jesus confirmed their work with signs or miracles.

What evil has he done? (Mk 15:14-15:14)

“Pilate asked them.

‘What evil has he done?’

But they shouted

All the more.

‘Crucify him!’”

 

ὁ δὲ Πειλᾶτος ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς Τί γὰρ ἐποίησεν κακόν; οἱ δὲ περισσῶς ἔκραξαν Σταύρωσον αὐτόν.

 

Something similar to this dialogue between Pilate and the crowd can be found in Matthew, chapter 27:23.  Mark said that Pilate tried to reason with the crowd.  He asked them (ὁ δὲ Πειλᾶτος ἔλεγεν αὐτοῖς) what evil or bad thing had Jesus done (Τί γὰρ ἐποίησεν κακόν)?  But they shouted all the more loudly (οἱ δὲ περισσῶς ἔκραξαν) that he was to be crucified (Σταύρωσον αὐτόν).  The crowd that had loved Jesus for all his miracles and preaching now wanted him dead as they had turned on him.  Have you ever turned on Jesus?

No sign will be given to this generation (Mk 8:12-8:12)

“Jesus sighed deeply

In his spirit.

He said.

‘Why does this generation

Seek a sign?

Truly!

I say to you!

No sign will be given

To this generation.’”

 

καὶ ἀναστενάξας τῷ πνεύματι αὐτοῦ λέγει Τί ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη ζητεῖ σημεῖον; ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, εἰ δοθήσεται τῇ γενεᾷ ταύτῃ σημεῖον

 

While both Matthew, chapter 12:39, and Luke, chapter 11:29-30, perhaps using a Q source, said that Jesus would only give them the sign of Jonah, Mark said here that Jesus was not going to give them any sign at all.  He said that Jesus sighed deeply in his spirit (καὶ ἀναστενάξας τῷ πνεύματι αὐτοῦ).  He asked them why was this generation seeking a sign (λέγει Τί ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη ζητεῖ σημεῖον)?  With a rare solemn proclamation (ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν) in Mark, Jesus told them point blank that no sign would be given to this generation in this convoluted phrase (εἰ δοθήσεται τῇ γενεᾷ ταύτῃ σημεῖον).  Sometimes miracles were considered heavenly signs, but Mark continued to call miracles works of power and not signs, as other gospel writers sometimes referred to them.

Jesus was disappointed (Mk 6:5-6:6)

“Jesus could do

No deed of power there,

Except that he laid his hands

On a few sick people.

He cured them.

He was amazed

At their unbelief.

Then he went

Among the villages

Teaching.”

 

καὶ οὐκ ἐδύνατο ἐκεῖ ποιῆσαι οὐδεμίαν δύναμιν, εἰ μὴ ὀλίγοις ἀρρώστοις ἐπιθεὶς τὰς χεῖρας ἐθεράπευσεν.

καὶ ἐθαύμασεν διὰ τὴν ἀπιστίαν αὐτῶν. Καὶ περιῆγεν τὰς κώμας κύκλῳ διδάσκων.

 

This is like Matthew, chapter 13:58, but there is nothing like this in the elaborate story of Luke, chapter 4:23-30.  Mark said that Jesus was not able to do any powerful deeds there (καὶ οὐκ ἐδύνατο ἐκεῖ ποιῆσαι οὐδεμίαν δύναμιν).  Nevertheless, he laid his hands on a few sick people (εἰ μὴ ὀλίγοις ἀρρώστοις ἐπιθεὶς τὰς χεῖρας), who were cured (ἐθεράπευσεν).  He was amazed at their unbelief (καὶ ἐθαύμασεν διὰ τὴν ἀπιστίαν αὐτῶν).  However, then he went among the villages (Καὶ περιῆγεν τὰς κώμας κύκλῳ) teaching (διδάσκων).  Jesus did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief, yet he kept on teaching.

 

Against Capernaum (Mt 11:23-11:24)

“You!

Capernaum!

Will you be exalted

To heaven?

No!

You will be brought down

To Hades.

If the deeds of power

Done in you

Had been done in Sodom,

It would have remained

Until this day.

But I tell you!

On the day of judgment

That it shall be more tolerable

For the land of Sodom

Than for you.”

 

καὶ σύ, Καφαρναούμ, μὴ ἕως οὐρανοῦ ὑψωθήσῃ; ἕως Ἅιδου καταβήσῃ· ὅτι εἰ ἐν Σοδόμοις ἐγενήθησαν αἱ δυνάμεις αἱ γενόμεναι ἐν σοί, ἔμεινεν ἂν μέχρι τῆς σήμερον.

πλὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι γῇ Σοδόμων ἀνεκτότερον ἔσται ἐν ἡμέρᾳ κρίσεως ἢ σοί.

 

Then Matthew has Jesus take on his own new home town of Capernaum.  Luke, chapter 10:15, has a similar statement, word for word, indicating a possible common Q source.  However, the second verse is unique to Matthew.  Jesus, turned to his home town of Capernaum (καὶ σύ, Καφαρναούμ), as mentioned in chapter 4:13.  He questioned them.  Would they be exalted or raised up to heaven (μὴ ἕως οὐρανοῦ ὑψωθήσῃ)?  No!  In fact, they would be cast down to the unseen world of Hades (ἕως Ἅιδου καταβήσῃ), the traditional Greek word for hell.  If the mighty miracles that were done in Capernaum were done in Sodom (ὅτι εἰ ἐν Σοδόμοις ἐγενήθησαν αἱ δυνάμεις αἱ γενόμεναι ἐν σοί), Sodom might have remained until the present day (ἔμεινεν ἂν μέχρι τῆς σήμερον).  This refers to the story in Genesis, chapter 19:1-29.  Then Jesus gave a solemn pronouncement “I say to you” (πλὴν λέγω ὑμῖν) that on the day of judgment (ἐν ἡμέρᾳ κρίσεως ἢ σοί) it would be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for the people of Capernaum (ὅτι γῇ Σοδόμων ἀνεκτότερον ἔσται).  Thus, Jesus had warned these three towns within 10 miles of each other, because they had not repented despite his many miracles there.

Joshua (Sir 46:1-46:6)

“Joshua

Son of Nun

Was mighty in war.

He was the successor of Moses

In the prophetic office.

He became,

As his name implies,

A great savior of God’s elect.

He took vengeance

On the enemies

That rose against them.

Thus he might give Israel

Its inheritance.

How glorious he was

When he lifted his hands.

He brandished his sword

Against the cities.

Who before him,

Ever stood so firm?

He waged the wars of the Lord.

Was it not through him

That the sun stood still?

Did not one day

Become as long as two?

He called upon the Most High,

The Mighty One,

When enemies pressed him on every side.

The great Lord answered him

With hailstones of mighty power.

He overwhelmed that nation in battle.

On the slope

He destroyed his opponents.

Thus the nations might know his armament.

He was fighting

In the sight of the Lord.

He was a devoted follower of the Mighty One.”

Of course, there was a whole biblical book named after Joshua. Sirach lists him as a warrior and a prophet, who succeeded Moses. This son of Nun was a great savior of God’s people. He wiped out the enemies of Israel so that they might have their inheritance. He lifted up his hand as he swung his sword. Before him, no one had ever waged wars for the Lord like him. He stood firm and created miracles with the sun. He called upon the Most High God, the mighty one, when enemies were all around him. The Lord heard his cry so that his enemies were destroyed. Thus all the countries came to know about his fighting strength for the Lord, as a devoted follower of the Mighty one.