Jesus calls the generation he was speaking to an evil and adulterous generation for they were seeking a sign. Specifically they were seeking a sign from him to prove he was the Christ. But Jesus said to them they would get no sign except the sign of Jonah.
What is the sign of Jonah?
Most people are familiar with the story of Jonah who spent three days in the belly of the great fish, usually represented as a whale. Jonah had been instructed by the Lord to go and preach to the town of Nineveh, but he was refusing to do as commanded. He was on a boat running away when a great storm hit, which may have capsized the boat, until he told the sailors to throw him overboard. They did this and the great fish/whale swallowed him whole and the sea was calmed.
Jonah spent three days and nights in the belly of this fish, after which it regurgitated him on a beach and he repented and went off to preach to Nineveh.
Thus the sign of Jonah was that he spent three days in the belly of the fish after which he returned and preached the word.
How does this apply to Jesus?
Jsus said the only sign that generation would receive was the sign of Jonah. So in the same manner when Jesus was put to death, he too spent three days in the “belly of the earth.” After the three days he was resurrected and came back to life, appearing to a great many of his disciples as proof that he was indeed the Christ sent to save mankind from sin.
What does this mean for us today?
We see today that there are still people seeking signs. They want proof before they will make a commitment to the Lord. As in Jesus’ day, it is an evil and adulterous generation today who also seek signs.
But the signs of the Lord are there for any who care to look. It is written in the Bible about the many signs of the times, especially as we approach the time of the end. Consider for instance the crazy weather, the earthquakes, tsunamis and the many wars and incursions occurring at the present time. All of these have increased and escalated in recent years, and all of these were prophesied about in the Bible by Jesus and others as the beginning of the times of the end.
The Pharisees constantly sought signs from Jesus, and yet the many healings and miracles he performed were ample evidence of who he was. His life fulfilled all of the prophecies in the Old Testament concerning the coming of the Christ, but the Pharisees refused to accept him as the Christ.
Are signs important?
It is important to watch for the signs for they tell us what is happening. The signs of the times are important for they show us that the Lord is coming soon. When we see the signs unfold we can take comfort and know that Jesus is not far away.
However we should not get too focused on the signs. Seeing signs and knowing the signs will not give you salvation. The miraculous signs as I have discussed in the past, were given to bear testimony to the preaching of the truth of the gospel. It is following Jesus and learning his ways that are important. Signs are useful, but following Christ is most important and that should be your number one priority.