2 Js and 1 U

IMG_2429Let me illuminate the headline.

2 Js are Jesus and Jonah.

1 U means you … or me or us or everybody.

I wandered into this territorial domain by following my own proposal.

In the last Niagara Anglican I suggested several Bible books for summer reading.

I took my own advice. I began with Jonah and was gripped with the comparisons between Jonah and Jesus. Quickly, my imagination soared as I endeavoured to garner their messages for us as individuals, church members and community citizens.

Although approximately 800 years separated them chronologically, Jesus would have heard Jonah’s story, either read publicly in the synagogue or around his family table.

When several Pharisees and teachers of the Law requested a miracle from Jesus, he replied that the only miracle they would get was the miracle of the prophet Jonah (Matthew 12: 38-40). As Jonah spent three days and nights in the belly of a big fish, so would the son of Man/God/Jesus spend a similar amount of time in the depths of the earth (Good Friday to Easter Day for us).

Jesus spent 40 days and nights (Lent) in the desert being tempted, while deciding the form and shape of his teachings and ministry.

When Jonah delivered God’s message to the people of Nineveh, he gave them 40 days to change their behaviour and clean up their act. Even the King responded, requiring every creature, including animals, to fast and wear sackcloth. Fasting yes, but visualizing sheep or pigs dressed in sackcloth boggles my imagination.

Both Jesus and Jonah, in all their life situations, conversed with and prayed to God.

From the belly of the big fish, Jonah, realizing his predicament while hearing the mighty ocean swirling dangerously outside, sought a second chance, promising faithfully to deliver God’s message to the people of Nineveh. God ordered the fish to spew Jonah onto the beach.

Perhaps Jesus’ most poignant prayer revealed his inner struggle while agonizing about his death on the cross. Alone at night in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus pleaded (Mark 14:32-42) with God to take away this “cup and suffering.” So fervent was his anguish, his sweat fell to the ground like gigantic drops of blood (Luke 22:44). Finally, like Jonah, Jesus decided to do what God was asking him to do: “Not what I want, but what you want.”

In the beginning, Jonah, not wanting to deliver God’s message, ran in the opposite direction. He knew if the people of Nineveh repented, God would not destroy them.

Jesus wanted to run away, but accepted his destiny knowing God was loving and forgiving. On the cross he would reiterate this, saying, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” and, “Into your hands I commend my spirit.”

Both Jonah and Jesus knew God would accompany them as they tackled the situations and consequences of where God was sending them.

Jonah delivered God’s message to the people of ONE city … Jesus delivered God’s good news to ALL people.

Jonah was called by God to deliver a message … Jesus was called by God to deliver humanity.

So, what does 1U (that is, you) learn from 2Js (that is, Jonah and Jesus)?

God calls us to deliver messages we would rather not deliver—calling out behaviours of injustices, inequalities or mistreatments.

God requests us to do things we would rather not do, like accepting differences or changing attitudes.

Our caring, loving, merciful, forgiving God is always with us, no matter where we go or what we do.

We can utilize God’s 24/7 conversation-prayer line—always a local call.

Hollis Hiscock welcomes your feedback and reflections.