Journey to Daily Prayer – Day 8
Wednesday in First Week of Lent
“Something greater than Jonah”
What did Jesus mean by “the sign of Jonah?” (Lk 11:29) Thankfully, today’s Jonah reading explains it. It begins, “the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh’” (Jo 3:1-2). Well, what was the first time? The first time, Jonah rebelled against God and instead of going to Nineveh, boards a ship going the opposite way. A storm erupts, and he’s cast out of the ship. He’s swallowed by a whale and spends three days and three nights in the whale’s belly and is eventually spat out. And then, the Lord tells him the second time, “Go to Nineveh”. Notice what happens next: he walks only a third of the distance into Nineveh preaching, and the entire city repents! And God forgives (Jo 3:10). But why did the Ninevites believe Jonah’s sermon? Because they heard of the story and smelled the man who stunk of whale guts. To them, it was a sign that God is more willing to forgive than to judge, to bless than to condemn. So, for Jesus, “the sign of Jonah” means the Ninevites’ quick and ready repentance at this stinky prophet’s sermon. Thus, if the Ninevites could believe Jonah who stunk of whale guts, how much more should we believe Jesus, who is greater than Jonah, and “smells” of death on the Cross? But let’s pivot, because we’re not Ninevites needing forgiveness. Rather, we are like Jonah, given the responsibility to preach forgiveness to the Ninevites around us. And if we are to be like Jonah, our lives too need to “stink” of forgiveness. The World around us should be able to smell God’s grace off of us. So, does your life smell of forgiveness and God’s grace and mercy to the people around you?
Bless us, O God, in this holy season, in which our hearts seek thy help and healing; and so purify us by thy discipline that we may grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.