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The Sign of Jonah


Sermon shared by Michael Hollinger

September 2005
Summary: Jesus is less about observation than participation
Denomination: Baptist
Audience: Believer adults
Sign of Jonah Sermon: ďSo you want to see a miracle?Ē

Text: Luke 11:29 - 32
Secondary: Jonah 3:4 - 5, 3:9 - 4:2

FCF: In regards to repentance, one must look beyond the distractions of observation into order to experience the joys of participation.

SO: I want the congregation to participate in Communion, giving themselves up to it, rather than just ďobservingĒ it.

I. A Sign (The Perils of Observation)
II. The Sign of Jonah (The Obligations of Emancipation)
III. The One Greater Than Jonah (The Joy of Participation)

Longer Outline

I. A Sign
a. Distracts Us
b. (But ultimately) Demands Nothing of Us
c. (And that) Deadens Us
II. The Sign of Jonah
a. Jonah only brusquely demanded repentance, but he got it.
b. Jonah observed repentance, but he despised it.
c. Jonah did not appreciate repentance, until he participated in it.
III. One Greater Than Jonah
a. A miracle delivered Jonah to where he was physically needed, but he remained emotionally detached.
b. Jesusí mere presence was a miracle, but he eagerly anticipated identifying with us - even in death.
IV. And so we rise upÖ

Communion: Repentance miraculously removes sin far from us - and this commemoration of the death of Christ is a celebration of how Christ accomplished that in us.

Did you know that the average American spends 29 hours each week watching television? Thatís more than the average American spends working, eating, or doing anything other than sleeping. The average pre-schooler will spend 6 to 7 hours each day in front of the television - and trust me when I say that itís not all Sesame Street. Iíll tell you too that by the time the average television viewer reaches the age of 18, he or she will have vicariously watched more than 200,000 acts of violence. Thatís almost 4x the number of men and women who died during the Vietnam War.

I tell you that statistic to make you aware of the culture in which we live. From the time we are placed in front of that box until the time we are placed in a box of our own, we are conditioned to passively take in life. It takes something special to get the sports fanatic out of the chair of observation and participate in the same sport he swears he loves. The culture of the couch potato is engrained in our collective psyches, and it can be a dangerous thing.

Now, even 1950 years BT (thatís Before Television), Jesus was aware of the seductive danger of living only through observation. In the Scripture we just read, Jesus contrasted two types of living - one that merely observes a sign, and one that participates in a miracle. Listen again to what he said. He says:

ďA wicked and adulterous generation (and by the way, in greek, that word is scolio - where we get scolosis, so you can imagine the twisted, unheathly nature of those he is addressing.)

ďA wicked and adulterous generation demands a sign. But I tell you, no sign will be given it, except the Sign of Jonah.Ē

Now, before we get into this sermon, I need to confess something to you - this sermon took me two months of intense Bible Study. It didnít come easy, but I finally realized its just part of the process that God wanted me to be engaged in, and I participated in the word, and the word engaged me. My habit of Bible study is just to read until something catches my eye that doesnít make sense. Itís those things that donít make
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