Some people think that the events in Jonah are nothing more than a fish story. Yet Jesus referenced the events at more than one occasion. He compared His death and resurrection to Jonah’s experience with the great fish. In the Book of Jonah, we read how God uses His power to convince Jonah to fulfill his calling, to save him from death, to teach him (and us), to show his mercy and to bring others to repentance. Jesus did the same thing.
Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For 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 in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.
Jesus uses the event of Jonah being in a great fish for 3 days to predict that He would die and be risen on the third day. This was Jesus’ mission. To take the sins of the world on His shoulders and pay the price by dying on the cross, and overcoming sin and death by being raised from the dead on the third day. He also uses Jonah’s story to show that no matter what you have done in life, that there is still time to repent and turn to Him to be saved. But the self-righteous, the religious, who do not have faith, whose heart is about self and not about God, will be condemned and even judged by those that they are judgmental toward. They don’t understand that salvation is not through following rules, but by having a heart and relationship with Jesus Christ.
This is not the only sign that Jesus used in His ministry. The same power that God uses to teach Jonah and to bring others to salvation, Jesus uses for those purposes as well. The first is His command of the sea and the waves. God uses a storm to get Jonah’s attention; Jesus uses the storm to get His disciples’ attention and to show them who He is. He is more than a teacher; He is God.
On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”
This is not the only time He commands the sea.
Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.
Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.
But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”
Sometimes God uses storms in our lives to draw us to Him. But, if we keep our eyes on Jesus, we have no need to fear. He will get us through it. If we reach out to Him, He will lift us up.
After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”
They said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?” They answered Him, “No.”
And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.
Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish. Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.”
Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken. Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.” Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?”—knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish. This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.
This time he commands the fish of the sea. He tells his disciples to cast their nets and they catch loads of fish. He reveals Himself to them after He was resurrected and then He restores Peter after denying Him. He used His power to provide, to guide and to teach. God always uses events, miracles or His power and presence to teach us something.
Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?” So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
With Jonah, God provided a plant first to provide shade (see the previous blog post) and then he removes it to teach him about his anger and God’s mercy. In the case of the fig tree, Jesus uses His power to teach us about faith and about prayer. If we don’t use our faith, it can become like the fig tree, being unfruitful and wither. But when we have faith through prayer, God can accomplish anything through us.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”
“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
With God, anything is possible. He provides good gifts, He teaches us and He uses His power to bring us to salvation , to give us more faith and draw us closer to Him.