Something Greater

Mark 4:25-41

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Matthew 12:38-41

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” 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. 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.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.

If you haven’t read the earlier devotions from this week, you may want to go back and read those before this. We’re taking a brief detour to the Gospels, but we’re still looking at the story of Jonah.

On Monday I mentioned briefly that even though it can be hard to see how Jonah fits in, the book of Jonah is part of the the unified story of the entire Bible that points to Jesus. New Testament authors often emphasize certain details that are meant to call the mind of the reader to remember events of the Old Testament. Beyond literary techniques, the Author of the universe ordered history in such a way that events of the Old Testament intentionally foreshadow and point to realities of the New Testament. The discipline of Biblical studies calls this typology.

We see both of these ideas at play in the story of Jonah when juxtaposed with these passages from the Gospels. When Mark tells of Jesus calming the storm, he has Jonah in mind. When Jesus tells the Pharisees of the “Sign of Jonah” he’s saying that Jonah was a type pointing towards himself. The whole Bible is a unified story pointing to Jesus.

In Jonah we see a picture of a flawed, inadequate servant of God, and that’s using the word servant pretty generously. It’s a picture that leaves us wanting. Surely there’s more. Surely this isn’t the best there is. Isn’t there anyone who’s not so messed up? I think of the angel looking around in Revelation 5 asking, “Isn’t there anyone who’s worthy?” Jesus brings good news. “Something greater than Jonah is here.”

Both Jonah and Jesus slept below deck during raging storms of nearly identical description. Jonah slept because he didn’t care whether he lived or died, in fact he was okay with dying as long as he didn’t have to go Nineveh. Jesus slept because he feared not the sea over which he was sovereign.

Both Jonah and Jesus were awoken by fearful sailors. Both storms end in divine intervention that calms the seas. Both groups of sailors are more terrified after the storm subsides than when it still raged.

Jonah is willingly thrown into the storm to make it subside. Is that where the similarities end?

“One greater than Jonah is here,” Jesus says. He has come to end all storms. Jonah went down into the storm caused by his own disobedience to make it cease. Jesus descended down into a death brought by the sin of the world in order that death itself may cease. Jesus threw himself beneath the greatest storm, beneath the wrath of a holy God against the transgressions of the world. While Jonah was vomited out of a fish after three days to begrudgingly preach a five word sermon he hoped would be ignored, Jesus walked triumphantly from his tomb to herald the good news that death itself is undone.

Truly, someone greater than Jonah is here. Weep no more, behold the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, is worthy.

Reflect

1. Even the best things of this world leave us wanting and unsatisfied, longing for more. Like Jonah’s shortcoming, these things are meant to point us to the one who alone will satisfy. Think of a time when this was true, maybe of something you hoped for a long time that turned out to be unsatisfying. How can you learn to be satisfied in Jesus, the only one who is enough, and to long for his Kingdom?

2. Can you think of other people or stories in the Old Testament that point to things in the New Testament? Here are a few to get you thinking:
-   The Bronze Serpent in Numbers 21:4-9 and John 3:14-15
-   Adam in Genesis 1-3 and 1 Corinthians 15:20-22

Pray

Lord Jesus, I thank you and praise you that you are worthy. Thank you that where everyone before and after you fall short, you are enough; the perfectly obedient, perfectly faithful servant of the Father. Help me to be satisfied in you and to love you more than worldly things, that in your Holy Spirit, I may be faithful as you have been, according to your righteousness and your victory over my sin and death. Amen.

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