Key Verses: Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, ‘Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.’ 39 He answered, ‘A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. Matthew 12:38-41
The account of Jonah and the Whale is one of the most famous stories in the whole Bible. It is one of those stories that even people who never read the Bible know. When most people think of Jonah, they think of the man who ran from God and was then swallowed up by a fish. Yet, only remembering the “fish story” part of Jonah means we miss the larger lesson from Jonah.
Throughout the book of Jonah, we see the similarities and contrasts between Jonah and Jesus.
- Jonah spent three days inside the belly of a great fish because of his own sinfulness and rebellion. Jesus spent three days inside the belly of the earth because of our sin and rebellion.
- Jonah ran from the difficult calling God gave Him (Jonah 1:3). Jesus perfectly obeyed the Father’s will, coming to earth and dying on the cross.
- Jonah was asleep on the ship during a storm caused by his own disobedience (Jonah 1:4-12). Jesus slept on a boat during a storm, and “rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.” (Mark 4:35-41). Jonah caused a storm. Jesus had authority over the storm.
- Jonah feared the Creator who had authority on earth (Jonah 1:9). Jesus is the Creator with all authority over heaven and earth (John 1:3; Matthew 28:18).
- In the fish, Jonah knew that “Salvation belongs to the Lord” (Jonah 2:9). Jesus’ name means “Yahweh saves.” Jesus is the way of salvation (Hebrews 5:9; Acts 4:12).
- Jonah became angry with God for showing grace toward repentant sinners (Jonah 4:2). Jesus modeled God’s grace toward repentant sinners (Romans 3:24).
- Jonah was angry enough to die because of God’s grace toward his enemies (Jonah 4:3). Jesus was compassionate enough to die because of His love for his enemies (Romans 5:10).
The question we must ask is “are we more like Jesus or Jonah?” The prayer we must pray is, “Make me more like Jesus.”