Jesus, Jonah and I
I hope you are enjoying the book of Jonah as we go through the preaching series on this book.
To discuss Jonah and Jesus together seems quite inappropriate. Jonah was that rebellious and recalcitrant prophet who acted according to his own understanding and will, to the extent of defying God’s plan and command; while Jesus was the absolute faithful servant of God the Father, who only said and did what the Father willed (Jn 12:49). Jesus was totally self-denying. As Paul said “he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” (Phil 2:7-8). Yet, the Bible draws a parallel between these two diametrically opposed characters. In the Gospels, Jesus cited Jonah as a sign for Himself (Mat 12:39-40). The comparison goes beyond what Jesus said on that occasion, that Jonah spending 3 days & nights in the belly of a fish and Christ was in a tomb for the same period. The account of Jesus calming the storm in Mk 4:35-41 reads as if it was written using Jonah 1 as a template, with many common elements in the two stories.
Theologians call this Typology, and there are other examples in the Bible. For example, David, the shepherd king was a “type” foreshadowing Christ. In this case, it could be that the Lord is using the strong contrast with Jonah to bring our perfect Saviour into focus.
In comparing the accounts of Jonah 1 and Jesus calming the storm, both concern a boat in dire situation in a violent storm. The storms in both cases were so enormous that even experienced sailors were petrified, convinced that they were facing imminent death. Both Jonah and Jesus were asleep and had to be awoken by their desperate shipmates. Both cases involved a supernatural act by God to calm the storms. Both mentioned that the sailors were even more terrified after the storm had abated at the realisation of God, who had power over nature. However, there was one stark difference between the stories. While the Son of God calmed the storm with a command, Jonah effectively told the sailors facing death to throw him into the sea. He had to die before they could live. The two accounts together highlight important truths about God’s wonderful plan of salvation. God is the Almighty “who spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm.” (Ps 33:9). He predestines and saves “in conformity with the purpose of his will” (Eph 1:11). He commanded, and the ferocious storm of His righteous wrath brought about by our sins has been propitiated. And yet, it has cost Him greatly. It has been accomplished by the Son being crucified by sinful men. He had to die so that they may live, as symbolised by Jonah.
Why did God use a “loser” to symbolise Christ? Did God make a careless choice for Jonah to be His servant? I don’t think so. His mercy and love were extended to Jonah as they are extended to you and I. Are we not very much like Jonah, self-centered, self-righteous and rebellious? Yet, He has called you and I to be His servants, ambassadors (2Cor 5:20), royal priesthood, holy nation and His own people (1Pet 2:9)? That is God’s grace.
Let us learn the lesson from Jonah’s experience, and be worthy of our calling.
把約拿和耶穌相提並論似乎是很不合適。約拿是一位悖逆和頑梗的先知，他按照自己的理解和意志行事，甚至於違背了神的計劃和命令。反之，耶穌是父神絕對忠心的僕人，祂只講和做天父所願的（約12：49）。祂完全地捨己，正如保羅所說：祂「…虛己、取了奴僕的形像、成為人的樣式 ; 既有人的樣子、就自己卑微、存心順服、以至於死、且死在十字架上。」（腓2：7-8）然而，聖經把這兩個極不相同的人物作比較。在福音書中，耶穌引用約拿作為祂自己將會怎樣的徵兆（太12：39-40）。這徵兆超乎了主耶穌在這段經文所指出的: 約拿在魚肚子裡度過三天三夜，好比基督在墳墓裡度過同樣的時間。在可4：35-41，耶穌平靜風浪的記述, 讀起來好像是按約拿書一章作為範本所寫的一樣。這兩個故事中有許多共同的元素。
在比較約拿書一章和耶穌平息風暴的記載中，我們可見兩者都涉及一艘在猛烈的風暴中將要沉沒的船。這兩事件的風暴都非常巨大，即使是經驗豐富的水手也覺驚恐震撼，相信他們必死在其中。約拿和耶穌都卻在船上睡著了，不得不被他們絕望的船友叫醒。這兩事件都涉及神超自然地干預，以平息風暴。在風暴後，水手們都因目睹神掌管大自然的大能而更恐懼。然而，這兩故事有一個明顯的分別。一方面，神的兒子是以命令平息風浪，而另一方面，約拿告訴面臨死亡的水手們把他扔進海裡。他必需死他們才能夠活。這兩個記述共同指出了神救恩的奇妙計劃及真理。神是全能的，祂是「說有就有。命立就立」的神（詩33：9）。祂「隨己意行作萬事的、照著他旨意所預定的」施行拯救（弗1：11）。祂吩咐，我們就得從我們的罪所引起的 - 祂公義忿怒的猛烈風暴中得到挽回。然而，在這旨意的成就中，祂付出了巨大的代價。聖子要被罪人釘死十架上罪人才能存活，正如約拿所象徵一樣。