Focal Passages: Jonah 1:1-4, 7-12; 2:1-4
Most likely you know the story of Jonah from Sunday School. The first few chapters describe Jonah’s call from God to go and cry out against the great and evil city of Nineveh. Instead of obeying God’s call, Jonah traveled downward in the opposite direction of Nineveh toward Tarshish and away from the presence of God.
While Jonah was on a ship full of pagan sailors headed for Tarshish, God hurled a great wind at the sea.
The storm was so strong that the boat was close to breaking apart. The pagans called out to their gods and begged Jonah to call out to his God with the hope that He would save them from death.
It is revealed that Jonah’s disobedience had brought about this judgment of God in the form of a storm. Finally, the pagan sailors hurled Jonah into the sea and the storm stopped. While this story is already amazing it also points to something even more magnificent, namely, the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we read this story through the lens of Jesus we see that the saving of pagans through the sacrifice of Jonah points to the salvation of all nations through the death of Christ (1 John 2:2). Moreover, Jonah’s rescue from death points to the resurrection of Christ from the dead (Matthew 12:40). In a certain sense, Jesus is like Jonah in that He hurled himself into the storm of God’s wrath so that we could be brought in to safety.
Oftentimes we read this story and apply it to ourselves through the perspective of Jonah. But, I believe that we are more like the pagan soldiers. It’s only because of Jesus that we are saved from the judgment of God.
Unlike Jonah, Jesus was the perfect sacrifice. It was you and I who needed to be hurled into the storm. But Jesus offered Himself on our behalf. So let us, like the pagans in the story, offer sacrifices of praise for what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.