Text: Jonah 1:1-17, Jonah 2:1-10, Mark 4:35-41, Colossians 1:15-20
Looking for some fantastic proof of Jesus’ deity, the Pharisees asked for a miraculous sign. But Jesus firmly answered them, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah” (Matthew 12:39).
The sign of the prophet Jonah… what is that? A big fish drawing? I kind of wish it was. But the sign of Jonah is a sign of judgment for a “wicked and adulterous generation.” Jesus was condemning the Pharisees, like the Ninevites, as “those who cling to worthless idols” and “forsake faithful love” (Jonah 2:8).
We are still a wicked and adulterous generation. And as much as I’d like to think the problem is my depraved next door neighbor or the villain on the nightly news, the truth is, it’s me. I have the heart of Jonah. I have the heart of a Pharisee.
While I would very much like to stay out of the category of those who cling to worthless idols (and I don’t like to be called “wicked” or “adulterous”), I fear we are all quick to turn to idols. When I am afraid, I will trust in chocolate, soft blankets, and Netflix. My idols seem to crop up everywhere I look. Do you find you are inclined to run to your comforts instead of running to Christ?
Jonah is notorious for running away to hide from scary things. And, I agree, the Ninevites were scary; they used to cut off the thumbs and gouge out the eyes of enemies. A brutal group like that hardly seems to deserve grace, mercy, and salvation.
But God’s call to Jonah was clear. “Go!” Run toward probable death or mutilation. Run toward those who do not deserve your love. Run into the storm.
We need the same mercy that God extended to to Jonah, the Ninevites, and the Pharisees. We needed someone to run into the storm for us. We needed one who would run toward certain death. Even though we did not deserve His love, Christ is the true and better Jonah because He ran into the heart of darkness so we wouldn’t have to.
But like Jonah, we are quick to forget the mercy we’ve been shown, and quick to take for granted the grace that kept us from drowning.
The sign of Jonah reminds us that another Jonah has come. Jesus entered the belly of the earth willingly. He put Himself in our place, cast over the side into the deep, bearing our curse. This true and better Jonah is slow to anger and abounding in compassion.
Jesus has calmed the storm of God’s judgment with His own sacrifice. As our lives were fading away, He raised us up from the pit. Despite all of our unfaithfulness, He offers His faithful love.