Commemoration of Jonah
The Lord be with you
Today we remember the prophet Jonah. A singular prophet among the many in the Old Testament, Jonah the son of Amittai was born about an hour’s walk from the town of Nazareth. The focus of his prophetic ministry was the call to preach at Nineveh, the capital of pagan Assyria (Jonah 1:2). His reluctance to respond, and God’s insistence that His call be heeded, is the story of the book that bears Jonah’s name. Although the great fish is the most remembered detail of his life, it is addressed in only three verses of the book (Jonah 1:17; 2:1, 10). Throughout the book, the important theme is how God deals compassionately with sinners. This reminds us of God’s call to us to reach out with his love to the unchurched. Jonah’s three-day sojourn in the belly of the fish is referred to by Jesus as a sign of His own death, burial, and resurrection (Matthew 12:39-41). The accent is actually on the resurrection part as dying and being buried is rather normal. Just as it was miraculous for Jonah to come back after being eaten, so it was an even greater miracle for Jesus to rise from the grave.
One of the clear messages of the book of Jonah is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is for all people, even those we might consider enemies of our nation. This, then, underscores the importance of foreign missions. Another interesting aspect of the book is how God uses plant life and how God’s reason for showing compassion to Nineveh includes, not only the humans, but also the animals (Jonah 4:11). This reminds us that the redemption Christ merited is for all creation. For in the First Adam all creation was cursed so in the Second Adam all creation was redeemed.
Collect for the Commemoration of Jonah: Lord God, heavenly Father, through the prophet Jonah, You continued the prophetic pattern of teaching Your people the true faith and demonstrating through miracles Your presence in creation to heal it of its brokenness. Grant that Your Church may see in Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the final end-times prophet whose teaching and miracles continue in Your Church through the healing medicine of the Gospel and the Sacraments; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Other prayers this day might inspire:
• For all of creation
• For the restoration of all things in the Second Coming
• For foreign missions
• For the Church in Iraq (where ancient Nineveh was)
• For a willingness to share the Gospel
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert