Summary: This sermon takes a look at the resurrection of Jesus from the belly of the fish - showing how we can have hope in the midst of of a sure death.
March 27, 2005 Jonah 2:2-9
He said: “In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the deep, 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.’ The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you brought my life up from the pit, O LORD my God. “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD.”
Imagine if you were swimming on the shores of the Mediterranean, enjoying a nice vacation on the beach. What if, while you were sitting there, a huge fish came out of nowhere and yackked up a man - still alive - onto the shore. Whoa! That would be quite a sight, would it not? Imagine if you caught it on video! You would make thousands. The man would be interviewed by all the major networks. He’d probably even write a book - like the guy who had to chop his arm off to survive while hiking in Utah. Beyond that, though, what else would the story be? It would be a neat an amazing story - a miracle - but nothing more.
There are some that ridicule this story of Jonah. There are others that ridicule the story of the resurrection of Christ. Yet there are some who believe these things really happened. They probably even believe in the virgin birth. So they come to church every Christmas and Easter to show their kudos to this God who became man and then rose from the dead. They like the songs of the season and the spirit of the days, so they like to come to church at this time.
However, is that enough? If that’s all you came here for today, to see a man miraculously rise from the dead - you’re not going to get the full meaning of this service. There’s more to it than that. This morning, we are going to do something different. Instead of looking at the resurrection from our 21st century perspective, we are going to travel back at least some 2500 years and climb into the belly of a fish - looking at the resurrection through the story of Jonah. This may seem like a backwards thing to do, but Jesus said, “as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Mt 12:40) Jesus compared the resurrection to the time Jonah spent in the belly of the first. By God’s Word and the blessing of the Holy Spirit I want you to - as the old song goes -
Feel Like Jonah in the Belly of the Fish
I. It starts by being thrown in the sea
For those of you who don’t know the story of Jonah - he didn’t just end up inside this fish by some random accident. He was not just swimming in the Mediterranean one day when he was mistaken for a school of plankton. Jonah was a prophet of God. The LORD told Jonah, “go to Nineveh and tell them to repent.” The only problem for Jonah was that Nineveh was the capital city of Israel’s arch-rivals - the Babylonians. They were a bunch of heathen dogs. On top of that, they weren’t even Jews. Jonah looked at this as a dog’s job. He didn’t want to reach out to these heathens. So he ran - boarding a ship at Joppa to go the exact opposite way - to Tarshish - way over in Spain. The prophet hung up his tongue, threw in his gown, and said to God, “find a different man, I’m done.” Whew, that’s a dangerous thing to do, and Jonah knew it. He was trying to run from God.
The LORD wasn’t going to let Jonah go so easily. As Jonah was sound asleep in the bottom of the boat, the LORD sent a huge storm - a seemingly ungodly storm - that hit the boat. The seamen - who made their living on the sea - knew that this was not normal. They came to Jonah - knowing that he was running from his God - and asked him what they should do. He said, “throw me overboard.” After they couldn’t row back home, they complied. Immediately, the storm stopped. The only problem for Jonah was that he was left in the middle of the Mediterranean without a boat.