Most of us know the story of the Prophet Jonah. He was called by God to preach God’s pending judgment upon Nineveh. He disobeyed and was cast into the sea and then swallowed by a great fish. Jonah then spent three days in the fish’s belly. He repented and he was vomited up and he proceeded to go and preach to Nineveh, who, at his preaching, repented. Good story, but where is Christ?
Christ must be there, and, of course, he has told us where we may find him, "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." All prophets are a type of Christ, and Jonah is no different. As God sent Jonah to save Nineveh, so He also sent His Son to save us.
Christ was cast into the great sea of our sins, which surely drowns us, and was swallowed by the grave. As Jonah was vomited onto day land, so Christ was vomited back into the land of the living.
Now that Christ is back in the land of the living he continually comes to us. Daily in our Baptisms, by which He first came to us. Weekly, or more, in His Holy Absolution. And He comes to us even in His own body and blood for our forgiveness. All these Epiphanies that we unfaithful Ninevites may become faithful sons and daughters of God’s gracious kingdom.
At the Ninevites’ turning back to God Jonah was indignant saying, "Ah, LORD, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm." This is where Christ blows Jonah out of the water (no pun intended). Since Christ is God, He came because He knew His Father would be merciful because of His vicarious dying and rising on our behalf.
So Christ is Jonah, we are the Ninevites, our sins are the sea, and the grave is the fish; we can, however, see ourselves in the great fish itself. We, who are sinful – and rightfully deserve the eternal grave – swim every day in teh waters of our Baptisms. We who starve from the things of this world open our mouths and receive the died-and-risen one for the preservation of our bodies and souls. Now we swim on until that great day when we shall be caught up in the Savior’s net and be drawn into the boat of heaven.
Where’s Christ? Exactly where he said he would be – Jonah, Font, Keys, and Supper. Where are we? Exactly where we should be – receiving Christ in all the wonderful ways he continually and graciously comes to us.