Jesus and Jonah: How they differ in both life and ministry
The book of Jonah
God gives Jonah an assignment to preach that judgment would fall on Nineveh, if the city did not repent, vs 1,2. However, Jonah refuses to consent and flees from his God-given assignment, vs 3! The Lord visits him with judgment, and the ship that he is fleeing in faces a terrible storm, vs 4! On finding out that he is the cause of the storm, those on board the ship reluctantly agreed to throw him into the water, at his behest, and the storm ceases, vs 5-15!
As a result, the men feared the Lord greatly, and earnestly vowed to offer lavish sacrifices to the Lord, vs 16. The Lord then sent a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights, vs 17!
Jesus mentioned in Mathew 12:39,40 that:
An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
For just as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish for three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. However, the difference between Jesus and Jonah is huge!
While Jesus willingly gave up His life for us, although He had not sinned even once, just so that we could be saved and redeemed, when we chose to repent of our sins and believe in Him, while Jonah who was a sinner himself, was more eager to see his enemies punished, rather than they repent and be forgiven so as to avoid God’s judgment!
As a result, Jonah’s presence on the ship became the cause of the storm, on account of his disobedience, while Jesus’ presence on the ship in Mathew 8:23-27, became the means to still the storm, on account of his sinless and obedient life! It must also be noted that both Jesus and Jonah were able to sleep peacefully during the storm! However, Jesus slept because His conscience was clear and His faith in the Father’s love and protection was perfect, while Jonah slept because his conscience was seared, as a result of his willful disobedience and he did not care even if he lost his life prematurely, so long as his enemies received God’s judgment on account of their sins!
And eventually, Jonah was swallowed up by the fish, wherein he spent 3 days and nights therein, on account of his disobedience, whereas, Jesus spent 3 days and nights in the heart of the earth on account of His obedience to the Father in order to taste death on our behalf, because of our disobedience, so that we might have life and have it in abundance! Let us determine to follow in the footsteps of Jesus thus willingly choosing to do the Father’s will at every step in our lives, so as to be a source of blessing to all those who come in touch with us.
Let us put on the heart of mercy and compassion towards our enemies, and become just like God, so as to earnestly desire that they repent and not perish, but also find abundant life, on repenting of their sins and trusting Jesus Christ to save them, just like we did too!
So close yet so far from God
❇️ But the Lord replied,”Have you any right to be angry?”(v4)
❇️ Jonah was angry that God didn’t punish the city of Nineveh because of its wickedness as he had told him.This despite the fact that he knew God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity (v2)
❇️ As a Prophet he was asked to warn the people of Nineveh by God and not to expect them to be punished. Though he knew that God relents from sending calamity he expected God to destroy Nineveh which was unbecoming of a Prophet.
❇️ Jonah faltered as a Prophet for the following reasons since he was so close yet so far from God.
▪️Jonah did not begin well as he was disobedient to God’s call initially.
▪️Jonah did not realise that God’s calling is given to fulfill God’s will and not to enforce man’s will
▪️We are only the Stewards and God is the final authority
▪️Whatever we do in our ministry should bless those whom we serve and not to destroy them
▪️The outcome of our ministry should be beneficial to the people, give peace to us and bring glory to God
▪️Jonah was not in sync with God’s plan of Salvation for the Ninevhites
❇️ Unlike Jonah we may not be called to be Prophets. Whatever may be our calling let us check whether we are obedient to our calling and our calling is to bless people and not to destroy.
❇️ In the light of Jonah’s neither beginning well nor finishing well as a Prophet we learn the following insights
✅ Insights learnt:
▪️ Obedience is a prerequisite to be a servant of God
▪️ Our ministry should bless not destroy people we serve
▪️ We are all Stewards and God is the Owner of our ministry
▪️ Our ministry should glorify God instead of us
E. Christadoss 🙏🏽