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The Commemoration of Jonah, Prophet, 22 September, anno Domini 2,014

Lord God, heavenly Father, through the prophet Jonah, You continued the prophetic pattern of teaching Your people the true faith and demonstrating through miracles Your presence in creation to heal it of its brokenness. Grant that Your Church may see in Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the final end-times prophet whose teaching and miracles continue in Your Church through the healing medicine of the Gospel and the Sacraments; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

About Jonah:

A singular prophet among the many in the Old Testament, Jonah the son of Amittai was born about an hour’s walk from the town of Nazareth. The focus of his prophetic ministry was the call to preach at Nineveh, the capital of pagan Assyria(Jonah 1:2). His reluctance to respond and God’s insistence that His call be heeded is the story of the book that bears Jonah’s name. Although the swallowing and disgorging of Jonah by the great fish is the most remembered detail of his life, it is addressed in only three verses of the book (Jonah1:17; 2:1, 10). Throughout the book, the important theme is how God deals compassionately with sinners. Jonah’s three-day sojourn in the belly of the fish is mentioned by Jesus as a sign of His own death, burial, and resurrection (Matthew12:39-41). (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, published by Concordia Publishing House;  for more on Jonah go here.)

Reflection:

We simply stand under God’s overflowing grace like rain, allowing its cool refreshment to fill our dry cracks. Then we pick up the bucket and dump it on someone else. Grace flows from Yahweh not on those who attempt to earn it, but on those who confess their need for it. The Spirit-empowered response is then to share it. But Jonah is like the angry older brother in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15:28-30): he views God’s lavish welcome for undeserving sinners who repent as an insult to his “deserving” self. The prophet has yet to embrace the Law and Gospel character of God expressed in James 2:13: “For judgment is without mercy to one who has not shown mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” (From Dr. Reed Lesssing’s Commentary on Jonah)

Jesus was asked by the scribes and Pharisees for a “sign”, a miracle.  

39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

Jesus made a comparison between Himself and Jonah.  Here are some details of that comparison:

Jonah ran away.

The Lord ran to His people.

 

Jonah ran away twice.

 The Lord never runs away and He sought Jonah twice,as He sought Adam, you, more than twice.

 

The Lord put Jonah in the belly of the great fish because Jonah refused to preach repentance to Ninevah.

The Lord was put in the belly of great fish, death, “the heart of the earth”, because He  preached repentance.

 

The Lord heard Jonah cry out in prayer in the belly of the great fish  to be saved and he was heard.

The Lord cried out, not for His salvation (as He did not need to), but ours and He was heard:  “It is finished” (John 19:30).

 

The Lord punished Jonah in the belly of the great fish.

The Lord took on the punishment which He did not deserve, the chastisement of us all, that makes us whole (cf. Isaiah 53)

 

The Lord called Jonah to preach His Word.

The Lord is the Word made flesh (St. John 1: 14), God’s own sermon to us all and in particular in His three nights in the heart of  the earth, preaching our salvation by faith through His grace through the Word of His blood (cf.Hebrews 12:24).

 

The Lord caused the great fish to spew Jonah out of the belly of the great fish. 

The Lord laid down His life to take it up again and death could not hold Him (John 10:18).

 

Jonah was swallowed by the great fish

Jesus swallowed up death itself.

 Behold, something greater than Jonah is here!  Allelulia!

 

 

 

 

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