Jesus stated, “For 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” (Matthew 12:40). Note the following:
1) As far as Jesus was concerned, Jonah was a real person, not the fanciful creation of a writer’s imagination. To claim that Jonah was less than a historical character is, by implication, to accuse Jesus of being either ignorant or accommodative. If He was ignorant, He could not have been the Son of Man that He claimed to be, hence, He lied. If He was accommodating the crowd’s ignorance then He went along with a lie for convenience. Neither position is very enviable; neither is defensible. Jonah was a real person.
2) Jesus claimed that the incident involving Jonah was real, not some fictitious concoction of the prophet’s imagination. Jonah did not lie in the telling of his experience, nor did Jesus in its verification as a true, factual event… or they both lied.
3) Jesus claimed that an event similar to Jonah’s would happen to Him. The claim is that His event would be as real and historical as was Jonah’s. It would not have been possible to compare the two as a reality if both were not equally real. Jesus predicted His death, burial and resurrection… or He lied.
It may seem uncompromising to take such a straight-forward position in such seemingly harsh terms but there is no middle ground, no compromise and no lee-way on these points. One either accepts, without excuse, waffling or cowardice, the truths presented here, or one does not. Jesus died, was buried and was resurrected from the dead. You believe it or you do not, and real history will determine your eternity.