Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Jonah and Jesus (4)

A Creature made Sick; or Creation Saved

One of the most obvious parallels between Jonah and Jesus is the sojourn of three days, one in the belly of the fish, and the other in the bowels of the earth. On the third day, the fish’s digestive system was sick of Jonah, , and God’s wrath was satisfied with Jesus, , so that they both emerged from their cages.

1A. Concerning Jonah:
“So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging.” (Jonah 1:15 ESV)

1B. Concerning Jesus:
“And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.” (Matthew 27:31 ESV)

But still there are differences, many more than I will mention. The sailors tossed Jonah as a last resort. The soldiers nailed Jesus with delight and a sense of entertainment. The sailors are seeking to appease an angry God. , The soldiers are seeking to please the maddening crowd , of religious leaders.

2A. Concerning Jonah:
“Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.” (Jonah 1:16 ESV)

2B. Concerning Jesus:
“And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”” (Mark 15:39 ESV)

In the wake of Jonah being thrown overboard, and Jesus being crucified, there is an awareness of a sea change, so to speak. The storm ceases, the veil is torn; the sun comes out, and the sky grows dark. The sailors, all of them, , in the calm after the storm, worship God. And the truth dawns on the centurion, all alone, in the darkness, as he witnesses the death of the Lord of glory.

3A. Concerning Jonah:
“And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” (Jonah 1:17 ESV)

3B. Concerning Jesus:
“For just 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 ESV)

God “appointed” a fish for Jonah, a place of prayer, if not confession. And God prepared a tomb for Jesus. I confess I do not understand all that Jesus accomplished during his time in the tomb. Peter alludes to testimony given to the spirits in prison (1 Peter 3:19), perhaps announcing the justice and righteousness of God in condemning sin and forgiving sinners. Jonah’s isolation found its focus in an individual humbling that failed to reach the standard of real repentance. Jesus’ burial sealed the successful sacrifice necessary for eternal salvation. Jonah’s emergence from the fish awarded him , a second chance. , Jesus’ appearance from the grave announced , a new creation. ,

So the Book of Jonah confronts us with a recalcitrant prophet, but also makes us think of the redeeming servant. And though we will never be redeemers, we may, by God’s grace, seek to be more like Jesus than like Jonah.

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