Jesus & Jonah, The Total Redemption

Posted: 13 June, 2009 in Ponderings
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Jesus & Jonah, God Series 13 - Submarine

Jonah – the very first submariner.

OK, that may be a little tongue-in-cheek, but Jonah is really the first man that had gone down into the depth of the sea and lived to tell the tale.

The account of Jonah in the Book of Jonah is a favourite among Sunday School kids. The story of Jonah is a drama between a passive man and an active God. The plot centers on a conflict between Jonah and God. God calls Jonah to proclaim judgment to Nineveh, but Jonah resists and attempts to flee. He goes to Joppa and boards a ship bound for Tarshish. God calls up a great storm at sea, and the ship’s crew cast Jonah overboard in an attempt to appease God. A great sea creature (a great fish or whale) sent by God, swallows Jonah. For three days and three nights Jonah languishes inside the fish’s belly. He says a prayer in which he repents for his disobedience and calls upon God for mercy. God speaks to the fish, which vomits out Jonah safely on dry land. After his rescue, Jonah obeys the call to prophesy against Nineveh, and they repent and God forgives them.

“For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.”   Matthew 12:42

But what makes this extraordinary account even more amazing is Jesus’ reference of Himself to Jonah in the New Testament. This very declaration revealed a great divine mystery to give us a rare glimpse of what Jesus had to go suffer, especially mentally and spiritually, other than what is mentioned in the gospels.

So what did the Book of Jonah say about the sufferings? When Jonah was swallowed up inside the belly of the fish, as Jesus in “the heart of the earth”, Jonah’s prayer revealed his agony:

“I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and Lord, you heard me! You threw me into the ocean depths, and I sank down to the heart of the sea. The mighty waters engulfed me; I was buried beneath your wild and stormy waves. Then I said, ‘O Lord, you have driven me from your presence. Yet I will look once more toward your holy Temple.’

“I sank beneath the waves, and the waters closed over me. Seaweed wrapped itself around my head. I sank down to the very roots of the mountains. I was imprisoned in the earth, whose gates lock shut forever. But you, O Lord my God, snatched me from the jaws of death!  As my life was slipping away, I remembered the Lord. And my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy Temple. Those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God’s mercies. But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.”   Jonah 2:2-9

Jonah was taken from his natural environment and thrusted into a space that is so alien, tramatic and unbearable. Similar, Jesus was placed on the cross in blood, shame and guilt; a place that He a God has never experienced before. Crying out to the Father but because of our sins He carried, He did not get a response. This, even before time, has never happened before. This is what Jesus had to endure; the physical torture although agonising, is compounded by His mental and spiritual anguish from the separation and abandonment from the Father.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.   Isaiah 53:5

Jesus was pierced for our spiritual rebellion and our sins. He endured the punishment so that we can have wholesome mental peace. He was physically wounded and whipped, so that we can be healed.

Jesus & Jonah, If at first you dont succeed...

Jesus’ suffering on the cross was total; His redemption is thus total! All our sins have been completely punished in the body of Christ who was condemned for us. He suffered the ultimate suffering, so that we enjoy His ultimate blessing; to be called sons and daughters of God!

  1. Great analogy. Of course the difference being that Christ came to the earth willingly to suffer and die that we might live. Jonah went to Ninevah kicking and screaming! But he did go.

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