Advent 2018: Until the Son of God Appears

Day 19: O Come, Merciful Savior

Jonah 1:1-12, Jonah 2:1-10, Matthew 12:38-41


I almost yelled, “Take my order already!” to the reluctant barista. She hung out behind the counter, avoiding eye-contact and shuffling cups; she didn’t want to do her job. I was under-caffeinated and she was probably on the verge of quitting—but she had a job to do, a mission to fulfill, a line of people to serve.

She reminded me of Jonah. You can’t find a more reluctant prophet in the Bible than the son of Amittai.

God calls Jonah to bring a message of revival, of God’s mercy, to the city of Nineveh, but Jonah shirks his summons. He shuffles cups. He avoids eye-contact. He boards a boat headed in the opposite direction. Throughout Jonah’s saga, he is reluctant, bitter, and unexcited about salvation belonging to the Lord. Jonah is so disengaged from God’s mercy that God sends a giant fish to gulp this reluctant prophet out of the sea. The Lord then commands the fish to spit him out onto dry land, resetting him toward Nineveh. Jonah finally goes on to preach to the Ninevites, and God brings revival through His reluctant prophet.

Do you see why Jesus declared that something greater than Jonah had come? (Matthew 12:41).

While Jonah wanted to dodge his mission, but Jesus was committed to His mission, to give Himself as a ransom for many. For you and me. Jonah hid his calling, but Jesus declared that He had come down from heaven to save sinners. Like you and me. Jonah tried to avoid Nineveh, but no one could stop Jesus from going to Jerusalem—His face was set like flint toward the city where He would be crucified. For you and me. Jonah and Jesus don’t have a lot in common. So, in one sense, it’s easy to see how something greater than Jonah is here. Jesus is no reluctant Savior. But there is more to Jonah’s journey.

The son of Amittai spent three days in the belly of a fish, but the Son of the Almighty God, the Alpha and the Omega Himself, spent three days in the belly of the earth after dying for our sins—and then He rose again. For you, and for me. For anyone who sees by faith that “salvation belongs to the Lord” (Jonah 2:9).

This advent, worship and rely on your non-reluctant Savior. He did something far greater than Jonah did—far greater than anyone ever could. He did it for the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2). He did it for you, and He did it for me.

Written by J.A. (Jeff) Medders