The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” (Jonah 1:1-2)
Remember the story where Lazerus and a rich man died in? Angels carried Lazerus to Abraham’s bosom (also known as Paradise) and the rich man went to the grave (also known as Hades, hell, or torment). Those are the two place where people went when they died. And there was a great chasm between them that no one could cross. Nineveh represents Paradise.
But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD. (Jonah 1:3)
We have a marvelous picture of every man’s life. Each starts out in a human body (a ship) going through life (the sea) facing circumstances and fears (the calms to the breakers) on the way to our final destination (Tarshish). Tarshish was the great market place where things were judged for their value: It’s the Judgment Day.
When Jesus came to earth, He lived in a body like other men (together with them in the ship –in fellowship), He did so without hesitation; He left His Father quickly to travel in the same ship on the same sea headed toward the same judgement as the rest of us. He gave up everything He had in heaven –His greatness, honor, position– that was the price He paid (at Joppa) to come here to become one with us ( ).
Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. (Jonah 1:4)
In Jesus endured on earth. He was the Creator of everything and yet was rejected, humiliated, tortured by His own creation ( )., Paul talks about a time when he was discouraged to the point of death because of the hardships that he and his companions faced as ministers of the gospel. This passage in Jonah describes the torturous times that
All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship. But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. (Jonah 1:5)
When the resurrection was upon them, His followers became afraid. They tried to change their circumstances without His leading. Peter even tried defending Jesus with a sword.
The sailors convey human fears, doubts and frailties –while providing an insight into the depth of the troubles that Jesus experienced during His life. Take a look at and try to imagine what might have gone through His soul. He was tested in all ways: in His body, His soul and His spirit. The passage in describes where Satan tempted Him with bread to satisfy His hunger, power over the world so that He could regain control of His creation, and security to ensure His own life.
The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us, and we will not perish.” (Jonah 1:6)
The captain was the one to test if Jonah was really the one to save them. He’s not unlike the religious leaders who tried to get Jesus to say something incriminating.
Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?” (Jonah 1:7-8)
When we are in turmoil, our fears rule us. That was the case for the common people of Jesus’ day when they joined in the jeering and mocking.
He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.” This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the LORD, because he had already told them so.) (Jonah 1:9-10)
Right to the end Jesus faithfully proclaimed who He was –the Son of God!
The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?” “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.” (Jonah 1:11-12)
Jesus knew that He would have to submit Himself to death. That was His mission from the moment He left heaven. Here are two passages from John that relate to lifting Him up and finally killing Him:
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. (John 3:14-15)
The Jews insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” (John 19:7)
It was in the garden that Jesus prayed that some other way might be found. Nonetheless, He submitted to His Father’s decision –to do His will –for His pleasure.
Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. Then they cried to the LORD, “O LORD, please do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, O LORD, have done as you pleased.” (Jonah 1:13-14)
Even Pilate didn’t want this blood on his hands:
When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” (Matthew 27:24)
Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. At this the men greatly feared the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows to him. (Jonah 1:15-16)
When it was over and He announced that “It is finished!”, many of the people realized what they had done.
But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights. (Jonah 1:17)
This fish is a picture of dying –it’s the separation from His Father. He was engulfed in the depths of the sea with waves and breakers crashing over His head.
Jesus used the analogy of the fish when talking to Peter and Andrew. He told them that they would be fishers of men. They were going to pull lost people out of the sea of death and into the ship of life.