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When I turned 13 years old, my parents got me a Hot Wheels set for my birthday that year. There was nothing spectacular about this type of typical racecar set; I’ve had several of them by this time of my young life. But what made this set was unique from all the rest was that it had (2) 1972, Chevy El Caminos (I later found out that these El Camino’s were especially made for this set and not sold in stores separately) and attached to these El Camino’s were gliders, that once the cars passed a trigger on the track, the gliders would release from the cars and go soaring. It was fun for the first month or so but sending the cars down the track and trying to “bomb” the dog with the gliders, got old pretty quick.
First forward a couple of decades. One night my wife and me were watching PBS’s “Antique Road Show” when one of the guests brought one of these Hot Wheels set that I had from my youth. The expert started telling the guest that this particular set was a short run series in that, Mattle only produced it for a brief three or four months and they were only sold in southern California thus making them pretty rare.
The expert then went on and, this is where I felt my heart starting to go into palpitations and I loss feeling in my left arm, if this set was complete with the gliders and cars, the price would be worth anywhere from $25, 000 to $30, 000. The guest told him that everything was there, except the gliders. The expert told the guest not to worry, because of the rarity of these sets, even a incomplete set would still be worth about $10, 000 to $15, 000….AND I HAD THE SET AND LOST IT!
Whether this is waxing nostalgia or crying over spilt milk, I’m not sure. One thing is certain, the gift I received as a young boy that cost my parents a few hard earned dollars surely is worth a treasure trove today.
But as a youngster, when we all received that special gift, didn’t we treat it like it was a wonder to behold? Didn’t it go everywhere with us? We would sleep with it, eat with it, take it on trips to near and far, it was our security blanket for when we went to the doctor’s office or any other dreadful place, we had a special spot for it in our room, we held it in high honor, no one played with it except us, but yet, we wanted to show it off to everyone we met. However, as good as some gifts are, what about those gifts that we received that didn’t hold such high regard? I think they call them “re-gifts”. You open the gift, and right away you know that this isn’t for you or so you think, ergo, you look for a quick and easy way to either get rid of it or make a buck off it. Regardless if the giver of the gift spent their hard earn dollars on it.
There were about 10 of them standing around the visitor as he taught the town people interesting things about his and their Father and the Father’s kingdom. The leader of the 10 made a request, “if you could give us just one sign, we believe who the people say you are”
The visitor retorted with, “an evil and wicked generation looks for signs and wonder” then he paused as he looked to the crowd and responded with, “say you want one sign? Here it is: I leave you with the sign of Jonah”
And with that proclamation, Jesus walked away from them. Murmuring to each other, they followed Jesus and one of them finally asked for clarification, “What do you mean, ‘the sign of Jonah’?”
Jesus replied rather harshly as if He was insulted by such blind stupidity. He told them. “you know how to read the sky for weather and you know how to read the trees for the change of the seasons, so why is it you don’t understand the sign of the times? The queen of the south will hold you in judgment because she sought the wisdom of Solomon and yet, there’s someone here greater than King Solomon. The people of Nineveh will hold you in judgment because after hearing the prophet Jonah preached, they repented and yet a greater preacher than Jonah is here in your midst”
And with that, Jesus walked away.
I have wondered in these past few months what our Lord meant by “the sign of Jonah” and what is the implication for this in my life? I consulted a friend for any input he might have on the subject. He gave me a direction to head off towards but I didn’t want to appear to plagiarize his ideas, thus I backed away from study of the phrase for a few days. But I didn’t abandon his suggestion either, I used it for a springboard to delve deeper into the word of God.
I further sought help from the Internet. I googled “sign of Jonah” to help with some insights on what the sign might have been. It didn’t really help either because there was a lot of kooky stuff out there; anywhere from the sign of Jonah was the shroud of Turin to someone actually used it to try and prove that Jesus never claimed to be God and that it was the true test to prove who messiah would be. That’s the trouble with the internet, while you know there’s golden nuggets there to be had for the taking, there’s also a lot of crap to go wading through to get to those nuggets. I knew this was going to be a waste of time; I had to delve deeper into the word if I was going to fully understand what the Lord is trying to tell me.
Then, I had somewhat of an epiphany. I’ve been reading and rereading the Book Of Jonah over several days and what I discovered is that while the fish part played an important part, (Jesus even used the example of Jonah being in the belly of the earth for three days and three nights as a reference to His death and resurrection) it wasn’t the climax of the story. The climax is that after the preaching of a somewhat soggy, seaweed draped, smelling of whale vomit, preacher tells the townsfolk about the impending doom they face from the Lord of Hosts, they repented and the city is spared from divine destruction.
Then the two caveats from Luke’s telling of the story kept tapping me of the preverbal shoulder; the queen of Sheba and the people of Nineveh. What they have in common is that neither of them are Jewish. Still, they believe the word of God. Then the Lord brought to mind the Roman Centurion, who made the request to Jesus to heal his servant simply by saying “it’ll be done”. Then the woman with the sick child who was a gentile, Jesus responded to her request for help by saying, “ It’s not right to take the food off the children’s plate and give it to the dogs.” And her reply was “yes, but Lord, even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the table”. She simply believed the words of Jesus and her child was healed.
And then…probably the utmost known verse of the Bible, that is seen at every sporting event (almost synonymous with the playing of the “Star Spangled Banner”) is that of John 3:16 and I don’t like to use it because of the overplay it gets, but it was the bow that tied everything together – “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
The sign of Jonah isn’t just the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; it’s about those who believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, i.e. those who have faith in Him, those who believe His words.
Our Father gave us a wonderful gift in His son, our brother, Jesus. How ashamed we should all be if we ever treat the gift with anything less than admiration and honor.
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