Jesus: Greater Than Jonah
Over the last few Sunday evenings, we’ve walked through the book of Jonah chapter by chapter. It’s a story everyone has heard of, but can we believe it, or is it a fairytale? The scriptures — both the Old and New Testament — reveal to us that Jonah was, in fact, a real, historical figure. He was an actual man who was a prophet of God. But if we do not believe the story of Jonah, then we cannot believe anything else in the scriptures (II Tim. 3:16). In the book of Jonah, we see God’s nature — gracious, merciful, slow to anger, patient, and forgiving.
Later in the New Testament, Jesus says in Matt. 12:41 that “indeed a greater than Jonah is here.” Who was He talking about? He was talking about Himself, of course. Jesus is greater than Jonah in every possible way. How? Let’s take a look.
Jonah was a sinful man. When God told him to go preach to Nineveh the first time, he rebelled against God and fled. Jesus is the Son of God — perfect in every way.
Jonah was a man in whom God had placed His word. Jesus is the Word of God (John 1:14).
Jesus is greater in His obedience. Jonah’s life was marred by disobedience and reluctance. Jesus says in John 6:38, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent me.” Paul writes in Phil. 2:8 that Jesus “humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
Jesus preached to all and had compassion for the lost. Jesus’ motivation was to save the lost (Luke 19:10: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost”). Jonah was heartless. He hoped no one in Nineveh — a wicked city (Jonah 1:2) — would be saved, and instead be destroyed.
Jonah was glad to walk away. He couldn’t wait to get out of Nineveh. Jesus will never leave us: “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).
The people of Nineveh were quick to repent after hearing one simple, eight-word message from Jonah. We have God’s full and final revelation, written and preserved for us. How do we respond to the message of God?
-- Steven Matthews