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Jonah and Jesus— for Openers

Green ThingContinued… from Jonah’s no Jesus.

Thanks to those of you who’ve taken the challenge…

Here’s an example of the kind of reflection I’ve been alluding to. It’s done not by turning the subplots of the Bible into allegories, but rather by reading forward and then backward to see how the greatest of all true mysteries, tragedies, and romances moves forward before pulling together in the end.

It’s done not by trying to answer what we haven’t been told, but rather by taking what we have been told and trying to find ways in which the pieces of the story cohere with the whole—by comparison and contrast.

It’s done not by giving us ways to disagree with one another, but by helping to pull us together more deeply into the lives of one another and our God.

It’s done not by insisting that we put our imagination aside and read just the facts when we read our Bible, but by reading the Bible with imaginations inspired by the facts we think we “get”.

I promised to jump in with both feet before we’re done. Believing you are safe friends with whom to share my thoughts… am ready to test the waters… See how much you agree with—or just can’t buy.

Fishing BoatJesus and Jonah…

Both are part of the bigger story of the Bible, with Jonah merely giving an unexplained hint of where that story has been—and is going.

Both are part of fulfilling God’s plan and promise to miraculously bless all nations of the world through the seed (descendant) of childless Abraham and Sarah—Jonah giving just a small but provocative taste of the extent of how Jesus would do it.

Both were sent by God to rescue their enemies, Jesus willingly—Jonah reluctantly.

On the way, both fell asleep in a boat in a supernatural storm that terrified their enemies, Jonah exhausted from running like a lost sheep, Jesus from his work as God’s ultimate and great shepherd.

CamelBoth were the reason for the storm, which when miraculously calmed helped their companions to declare faith in the One true God, Jonah pointing to the God from whom he was running, Jesus to the God who was in the boat.

Both made a sacrifice for the sake of others, in such a way that, when they were restored, enabled them to continue and fulfill their mission, Jonah bearing his own sin by telling the pagan sailors to throw him overboard, Jesus by willingly bearing the sin of the world as rulers of his people called for his death and pagan Romans nailing him to a cross.

Both understood something of what was happening, Jonah in part, Jesus in full.

Both declared the word of God, Jonah professing a message of judgment, Jesus a message of truth and grace.

Both had stories that enabled them to be a sign to their hearers, Jonah by returning from the belly of a fish, Jesus from the depths and certainty of a sealed grave.

Both knew the heart of their God, in a way that Jesus loved and Jonah didn’t like.

Both by comparison and contrast help those who hear and reflect to find ourselves in their lives.

Both have stories that end in a way that leaves us wanting to know more— how long did it take for Jonah to come to his senses, and how far will the rescuing message of Jesus bring God’s promise to Abraham to all the peoples of the world?

Again, my reason for asking us to consider such an approach to the Bible is the thought that by engaging our minds and imagination with the parts and fullness of what we’ve been told (by comparison and contrast), we have a way of more fully finding ourselves in the life and death love story of our God.

OK… let’s keep talking….

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16 Responses to “Jonah and Jesus— for Openers”

  1. bubbles says:

    Thank you, again, Mart. This is interesting and I love it!

  2. poohpity says:

    It seems Jonah wanted to be selective about who he told about the Lord and did not seem to include those who were enemies but rather desired them to be destroyed not saved. Jesus was for all mankind knowing that all mankind had the fatal flaws but was willing to give His life for every last one of them.

    That reminds me of our enemies in this day and age. Do I want them all wiped out and killed or do I pray for them to come to know the Lord? Jonah may have thought of himself better and more worthy than all those in Nineveh but going through the story we see that the reality is that he was no better or more worthy than everybody else maybe in his mind but not to God.

  3. tracey5tgbtg says:

    Lots of comparisons between the different aspects of Jonah and Jesus. Regarding the comment, “Both knew the heart of their God, in a way that Jesus loved and Jonah didn’t like.” Jesus loved the Father, He and the Father were one. When I think of Jonah’s relationship with God, I get the idea that he fully believed in God and knew Him to be LORD, but Jonah didn’t appear, to me, to be in awe of God, or to love Him.

    Jonah’s first action was to tell God, “I don’t want to do what you want me to do, in fact I’m going to go the opposite way that you want me to go.” Jonah didn’t seem too worried about defying God. Then, in the boat, again Jonah wasn’t “scared” as the sailors were, but he fully believed that everything would be fine if the sailors threw him out of the boat.

    As he was sitting in the belly of the fish, was he scared? Or did he come to the point that he realized he had to do what God wanted him to do because God was going to continue to orchestrate circumstances until His will was fulfilled.

    Jonah went to Ninevah and preached judgement and they initially responded. I seem to recall that I’ve read or heard that in a few hundred years Ninevah was again a sinful place and that it was eventually destroyed, but I could be wrong about that.

    However, as soon as God forgives Ninevah, Jonah gets angry, again showing a lack of awe, fear and love of God. But of course we would say that Jonah is good because he had a strong, unwavering faith in God and he believed in righteous living. Personally, I think that Jonah is a self-righteous hypocrite, and yet I also see that God loved Jonah and used Jonah as His messenger. When I see Jonah’s flaws, then I have become just as self-righteous as he was; I am just as flawed.

    Jesus, of course, knew His Father, and He loved the Father. He followed God’s will perfectly. Jesus preached many times and by the time he was finished, he had few followers and the religious leaders wanted Him dead.

    Jonah was angry because God forgave the “sinners” and Jesus asked God to forgive the sinners even though they did not repent.

    A strong message I get is that God longs to forgive. Do we want God to forgive sinners as much as He does?

  4. poohpity says:

    Another contrast I saw was that the sailors asked God not to punish them for the sins of Jonah when Jesus gave His self for the sins of others yet He did not sin. Both were a sacrifice for sin one for his own the other for the sins of others.

  5. cbrown says:

    I am thankful for this topic and the 2 previous. The discussion and posts have helped me to see the old covenant and new covenant in a different light. Thank you all.

  6. refump says:

    Mart stated the purpose of this topic was for “is to have a way of more fully finding ourselves in the life and death love story of our God.”
    I am not sure what that means. Could you or someone here expand that?
    Speaking of comparing & contrasting in the Bible, I read a devotional the other day that contrasted Judas & the thief on the cross that ended up “with Jesus in paradise”. One spent 3 intense years walking with Jesus & benefiting from a day to day observance of His miracles & teaching yet ended up betraying Jesus & eventually committing suicide. The other lived out a life of crimes so heinous he was given a death sentence yet with dying breath expressed a faith that led to forgiveness & eternity in heaven. To many this does not seem fair & may even resent the theif’s salvation much as Jonah seem to resent the salvation of the Ninevites. God is not fair but He is just. His ways are higher than ours. His Grace is beyond our comprehension!

  7. jeff1 says:

    I think you are simplifying Jonah’s dilemma, put yourself in his shoes, his good friends had more then likely been murdered by the people of Ninevh, he is human, in that he is torn between loyalty to his people and allowing God to use him to save people who are not repentant.

    Jonah’s mistake is not in trusting God but God forces his hand. I disagree that Jonah is not a righteousness man unless there is more in the bible about him then I know.

    He believes in justice, brought up to believe that if you do the crime you do the time. He is focusing too much on the victims of the people of Ninevah and not on God’s mission for him.

    I do not think God would have chosen to use Jonah if he where a self righteous hypocrite but knew Jonah’s was being judgemental because of his beliefs/upbringing and in bringing him to his senses God was saving both Ninevh and Jonah from his own blindness/cycnicalness.

  8. SFDBWV says:

    A normal fast paced morning followed by a long day trip for Matt and I was met by computer problems when we did get home last night. After working on it all morning it got fixed, I am not sure how and couldn’t tell you how, but I kept pushing buttons until it was back to normal and am only now able to get any use of it.

    Reading Mart’s new (sort of) subject pushes me into an area I didn’t really want to go, but if I am to express my thoughts I will have to go there.

    If the point is to show how every character in Scripture compares to God/Christ, then every character is going to come up short of being perfect and even in many cases the opposite.

    If the point is to make us all aware that we are imperfect and in need of Christ, the point is well taken.

    In the movement through such a discovery we are going to end up comparing people against people as well, as some demonstrate Christ like behavior and some don’t, especially within the body of Christ.

    Here in this discussion we end up being judgmental about the very people God has used for His purposes. This time around being Jonah.

    Jonah is a human being with human failings, so am I so are you. God as a man did not and as a result we get to share in His glory because of Him not because of us.

    It was a warm 08 degrees this morning, under a starry sky.


  9. Mart DeHaan says:

    I don’t think we need to be judgmental about Jonah, especially if we can see ourselves in his weakness/inclinations and if, in doing so, can see more clearly our need for the Spirit, grace, and heart of God.

  10. Mart DeHaan says:

    refump, By “finding ourselves” in the characters stories of Scripture I’m referring to learning something about ourselves by seeing our own inclinations, needs, etc. reflected in the men and women of the Bible.

  11. joycemb says:

    Thank you Mart, every time I read a post that amounts to saying ” shame on you all” it makes me sick to my stomach and I’m tired of it. Now, if we can all lift our heads above our “selves” and deal with scripture as it is we would all be much better off.

    Not sure this will happen but I’m game for seeing how this plays out.

  12. refump says:

    Mart, thanks for the expanded explanation. I’m not the brightest bulb in the drawer so this helps. LOL

  13. SFDBWV says:

    One of those things that have always made me feel better about myself is that the weaknesses that are demonstrated by all of the characters in Scripture are also found in me at any given time. Yet these men were used of God and some even considered the apple of God’s eye.

    The disciples were no different all of them showed failings and yet they are the disciples.

    Paul even went so far as to say the more he tried to do that which was right the more he did wrong.

    I once told that to an old Church of God preacher and he scolded me harshly for even considering to compare myself with Paul.

    I don’t think God wants us to feel self-hate, but rather feel good about who we have become once we have joined with Him in our walk through life.

    I also think we need to center on feeling good about ourselves as we do the best we can at showing Christ in our lives, not continually feeling discouraged because we think we need to be perfect, but rather feeling maybe we can always do better, one day at a time, one step at a time.


  14. tracey5tgbtg says:

    Reading about Jonah at the end of the book… But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the LORD, “Isn’t this what I said, LORD, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

    But the LORD replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?”

    Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. Then the LORD God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”

    But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”

    “It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”

    But the LORD said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”

    Now, I’m not saying God didn’t love Jonah or that He couldn’t use Jonah or that Jonah was any different from any other human being. However, it does seem to me that Jonah is being a trifle hypocritical by being mad at God for destroying a plant, and mad at God for NOT destroying a city with more than a hundred and twenty thousand people.

    I’m not judging Jonah. I have no room to judge. I have been such a hypocrite on many occasions.

    Jonah couldn’t save Ninevah, he could only tell them of the God they must follow for salvation. But Jesus can and did save.

    Jonah and Jesus are similar in that God sent them to sinners because God wanted to forgive them.

  15. street says:

    mart said,”Both declared the word of God, Jonah professing a message of judgment, Jesus a message of truth and grace.”

    mart? how was the message different? it seems to me the message was the same and many saved.

  16. street says:

    mart said,”Both by comparison and contrast help those who hear and reflect to find ourselves in their lives.”

    i have to admit i find myself in jonah, but the great hope is that His word in me! He must increase!

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