Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.
I. TO SHOW THAT SUFFICIENT CAUSE IN THE DIFFERENT CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE TWO, WHY THE REPENTANT NINEVITES SHOULD BE WITNESSES AGAINST THE IMPENITENT JEWS. NOW what account are we to give of this repentance of the Ninevites? At first sight it seems strange that so vast a result should have been wrought by the preaching of a solitary and unknown individual. Jonah had no miraculous credentials to give; but he had himself been the subject of miracle. God might be said to have raised him from the dead. The evidence was that of a resurrection; this is sufficient to produce conviction.
1. We may declare that far more evidence was afforded to the Jews of the resurrection of Christ, than to the Ninevites of the resurrection of Jonah. They had the same sign with greater clearness. The preaching of the resurrection by the apostles exceeded immeasurably any evidence granted to the Ninevites of the entombment of Jonah.
2. Then think of what a contrast there was between Jonah, void of all power of proving his commission by miracles, and our Redeemer displaying in the streets of Jerusalem and on the coasts of Judea, authority over diseases and death. If a mere report of the miracle concerning Jonah overcame the Ninevites, what can be urged in defence of the Jews, who gave no heed to their Teacher though they beheld Him with their own eyes exercising miraculous powers?
3. How different were the messages which the two prophets delivered. Jonah brought nothing but tribulation; Christ merciful promises.
4. Jonah could not have shown any sympathy with those whose destruction he was commissioned to predict, for he was displeased that his prediction was not accomplished. But how different the deportment of Christ. He had to predict the desolation of a mighty capital; but He did it with burning tears. If the Ninevites gave heed to the prophet of wrath, how much more should the Jews to a messenger who would rejoice if repentance should turn away their woe.
II. THE PRACTICAL LESSON'S WHICH THE REFERENCE TO THE LAST JUDGMENT MAY HAVE BEEN INTENDED TO FURNISH. One man is, or one set of men are, summoned to give evidence against another at the judgment seat. The young man who died in his prime, the victim of his passions, will be tried as the sensualist. Who will give evidence? A father's voice will testify, "I warned him." The child will witness against the negligent parent. The faithful pastor will witness against the nominal Christian. The man of toil and poverty, who did good, will witness against the wealthy worldling. The heathen may witness against us.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him.