Jesus had been teaching and healing people when asked by a group of scribes and Pharisees for a sign that they may know that Jesus was actually from God and not of Satan. What was His response and what did He mean?
Jesus' response to them is below:
" But he answered them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here." Matthew 12:38-41
What did Jesus mean by the sign of Jonah? First, let's take a moment to learn who Jonah was. Jonah was a man that was sent by God to preach repentance to the Ninevites. Jonah did not want to do this, so he disobeyed God and tried to run away from Him. God sent a big storm and soon, Jonah was thrown into the ocean where he was swallowed by a great fish. He stayed inside the fish for 3 days and then God made the fish spit him out on land. Eventually, Jonah did go to Ninevah and the people of the city repented.
The three days here is what Jesus meant by the sign of Jonah. Jesus had been performing great miracles that these very people had witnessed, yet they wanted more of a sign from Him. He tells them there will be no more signs, but one final sign is coming and that is His resurrection. What is more, He then contrasts them to the Ninevites, who believed Jonah with much less evidence than they had seen from Jesus Himself. So, the "sign of Jonah" was Jesus raising from the grave- God's greatest miracle!