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In the belly, in the belly, Jonah in the belly of the whale

by davesandel on October 4th, 2021

Monday, October 4, 2021                               (today’s lectionary)

Memorial of Saint Francis Assisi

In the belly, in the belly, Jonah in the belly of the whale

Onboard the ship, Jonah said to the sailors, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea, that the storm may quiet down for you. I know it is because of me that this violent storm has come upon us.”

But just before that, the sailors had to wake him up. In the middle of the storm, Jonah was sound asleep, down in the bottom of the hold. Sound familiar?

The captain said, “What are you doing asleep? Rise up, call upon your God! Perhaps God will be mindful of us so that we may not perish.”

The disciples woke Jesus, and I imagine he stretched his arms, yawned, and rebuked the sea. Jonah had no such power, but he could sacrifice himself for the sake of the sailors, and he did. In spite of their remorse, the sailors threw him overboard.

We beseech you, O Lord, let us not perish for taking this man’s life.” Then they threw Jonah into the sea, and the raging of the sea stopped.

Jonah, Jesus, Jonah, Jesus, can we get a witness? “The raging of the sea has stopped.”

Struck with great fear of the Lord, the men offered sacrifice and made vows to Jonah’s God …

They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him” (Mark 4:41).

Both Jesus and Jonah were destined to be swallowed up, Jonah by a great fish, Jesus by events he predicted before they happened. Jonah waits, alive, within the fish, for God’s mercy and salvation.

From the belly of the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord, his God. Then the Lord commanded the fish to spew Jonah upon the shore.

Jesus arrives in the Garden of Gethsemane, having dismissed Judas of Iscariot to “do what you have to do.” In the middle of the night, Jesus goes to the Garden to pray.

Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee. Take this cup away from me. But still, not what I will, but what thou wilt.

Jonah spent three days and nights in the belly of the fish. Jesus spent three days and nights (kind of) in the belly of death, in the grave, in the cave sealed by a stone.

The Lord commanded the fish to spew Jonah upon the shore …

The angel said to Mary, “He whom you seek is not here. He has risen.”

Jonah tells his tale with gratitude and relief, praising God for saving his life.

Out of my distress I called to the Lord. He answered me, he heard my voice, and rescued my life from the pit. When my soul fainted within me, I remembered you, and my prayer reached you. You rescued my life from the pit, O Lord.

However it does seem (as we will see) that his will is not broken. He might not be in charge of his fate, but he can still say no to God. That sounds too much like me, I think. Jesus, on the other hand, did no such thing.

Jesus loved the Samaritans and walked frequently through their country. In one of his most famous stories a Samaritan comes to the rescue of a beaten, half-dead victim of bandits on the highway.

A priest passed by on the opposite side. A Levite … passed by on the opposite side. A Samaritan approached the man, poured oil and wine over his wounds, bandaged them, and then carried him on his mule to an inn. He gave money to the innkeeper and assured him he would return to pay him more if needed.

God is sending Jonah to the Ninevites; there he must beg them to turn back to God. But Jonah might be more like James and John, who asked Jesus to ask God to cast down fire on the Samaritans, than Jesus, who loved them. This story is just getting started.

(Jonah 1, Jonah 2, John 13, Luke 10)              

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