“You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’”
Banished but Not Forgotten
Jesus only compared himself to one prophet. He picked the one we would least expect: the prophet Jonah. Reluctant Jonah. Selfish Jonah. Sinful Jonah.
God called Jonah to preach to the foreign city of Nineveh. But Jonah didn’t want to go. He got on a boat and went the other way. And when a storm came up and threatened to sink Jonah’s ship, he told the sailors the only way to stop the storm was to throw him into the sea. And sure enough, once Jonah was overboard in the water, the storm stopped.
There in the sea, Jonah was swallowed by a great fish. From the belly of that fish, Jonah prayed to God, “I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.” Even in such a terrible predicament, even after he had sinfully disobeyed his God, Jonah trusted that the Lord could rescue him and allow him to one day look at the holy temple in Jerusalem.
Why did Jesus compare himself to this particularly sinful and selfish prophet? Because just as Jonah was delivered from the belly of that fish, Jesus knew he would be delivered from the grave after his death.
Sure enough, after suffering for our sins and being placed in a tomb on Friday, Jesus was raised back to life and walked out of the tomb on Sunday. It all happened just as Jesus knew it would happen. And it will happen to his followers just as he promises it will happen. Although we will suffer death and be placed in the grave, we will be raised one day to experience the eternal life Jesus won for us.
Dear Jesus, thank you for taking my place and for giving me life with God forever. Amen.