Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

Advent 2023: December 6 - People

Read Jonah 1-4.

Jonah is a short, well known, and well loved book.  Even dating back to the time of Christians in the catacombs of Rome, the story of Jonah was the most attested piece of art on the walls of the catacombs, right behind the image of Jesus as Shepherd.
When we read the prophet Jonah, we are naturally inclined to pick up several images between Jonah and Jesus.

In fact, Jesus himself draws the comparison.  In Matthew 12:38-42, He says, “No sign will be given to this generation, except the sign of the prophet Jonah.  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.  The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.”
The entire story of Jonah should be see through the lens of Jesus.  In fact, all the prophets should be, but here Jonah is our test case.

Jonah is called to preach to sinners and bring them back to God.  Of course, he refuses, and soon ends up in the belly of the great fish.  This is one reason why Jesus is greater than Jonah.  In fact, some commentators believe that Jonah actually died and that God resurrected him.  Which, considering what Jesus says to compare himself with Jonah, makes a good deal amount of sense.
When Jonah came to Nineveh, he preached, and they believed and were saved.

Likewise, Jesus will be rejected by his own people, but the Gentiles will believe in him and be saved.
But there is also another account in Scripture that draws our attention to Jesus and how Jonah points us to him.  In Mark 4:35-41, Jesus has been preaching and teaching and healing and is exhausted.  They get into a boat and cross the sea, and then a storm threatens to swamp the boat.  Jesus, of course, is in the stern of the boat, fast asleep on the cushion, most likely the pilot’s seat.  The disciples wake him up and Jesus commands the sea and it obeys him, which freaks the disciples out.

Likewise in Jonah, Jonah during the storm goes into the ship and falls asleep and has to be woken by the captain.  Eventually, Jonah calms the storm because the sailors toss him in.
It is fun to compare and contrast characters and to see that Jesus and Jonah’s stories run parallel, but Jesus is the greater.