AN AMAZING FACT: In 1891, a whaling ship off the Falkland Islands spotted a huge 80-foot sperm whale. Two longboats were quickly launched to hunt the monster. Closing in, the crew harpooned the whale, which quickly dove down away from the boat. Suddenly, the whale resurfaced right under the first longboat, breaking it and throwing its men into the air. As the whale disappeared again, the remaining longboat rescued the survivors—but two men were missing and presumed drowned.
Soon, the dead whale floated to the surface, and the crewmen began their grisly job, removing its blubber. By midnight the task was still unfinished, and the sailors went to bed. In the morning, as they resumed their work, the unexpected happened: something in the stomach was moving spasmodically. Thinking it might be a giant squid, they cut the stomach open. Inside was one of the missing sailors, James Bartley, doubled up and unconscious.
As Bartley recovered over the next few weeks, he recalled being hit by the whale’s tail and then encompassed by great darkness. He felt he was slipping along a smooth passage that seemed to carry him forward. His hands touched a slimy substance, which seemed to shrink from his touch. He could breathe the stifling air, but the heat was terrible. The next thing he remembered, he was waking up in the captain’s cabin. Except for the fact that his face, neck, and hands had been bleached white, Bartley survived the belly of a whale! Understandably, Bartley left whaling and spent his remaining years working as a cobbler. When he was buried, his tombstone featured these words: “James Bartley—1870-1909…A modern Jonah.”
When people in Jesus’ day asked for a sign, He said the “sign of Jonah” was the only sign that would be given. When Jonah preached in Nineveh, his “back to life” experience with the whale likely gave credence to his message. Similarly, Jesus’ resurrection is evidence of His divinity. But sadly, for many the sign of Jonah isn’t enough—not only do they disbelieve the Jonah account, but they deny the resurrection as well. We’re left with a choice: we can join the “evil generation” in disbelief, or the Ninevites in believing and repenting. Is the sign of Jonah enough for you?
KEY BIBLE TEXTS
And when the people were gathered thick together, he began to say, This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. Luke 11:29