Monday, October 13, 2014

For Freedom

For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.  Galatians 5:1

“At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here.”  Luke 11:31-32

Father, raise us up from the poverty of temptation and from the prison of sin.  Help us to recognize that there is something greater in life.  That something is the promise of your Son.  He leads us to more than what we want…and that is what you want of us.  Holy Spirit, set us free to carry our cross daily.  Amen.

The sign of Jonah may be interpreted by some as a resurrection allegory.  The whale where Jonah was swallowed and later emerged back into life symbolizes the tomb from which Jesus will emerge.  In Matthew 12:38-42, the meaning for “sign of Jonah” is interpreted by Jesus as his death and resurrection.  “Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.”  That is a memorable part of the story but there is more than the straight allegory to the resurrection.

However, the “sign of Jonah” in Luke also means the preaching of repentance by a prophet who comes from afar.  Jonah ended up in the belly of the whale to escape his call to preach repentance to the people of Nineveh.   John the Baptist carried on that message – the same message that Jesus picked.  Jesus used John’s (and Jonah’s) very words asking his followers to repent and change the direction of their lives. 

When Jesus carried this forward, there is something greater because in His life is the fulfillment of these scriptures. The irony here is that Jesus says, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah.”  However, in Jesus, the generation and all which follow are given more than the sign of Jonah because they and we get the cross and the sign of Jesus.

Repentance is not a one-time occurrence.  Paul asks the Galatians to not submit to the slavery of sin again.  However, just as ours is a cyclical church that offers the sacrifice of Jesus on a daily basis, the sacrifice is offer because we are tempted and submit to the near occasion of sin on a daily basis.

Who is Jonah in your life? Who brings the message of change to your habits?  How do you respond to the call of scripture? 

To whom are you Jonah?  To whom are you bringing the message of change?  Are you avoiding the responsibility to teach that message by jumping overboard or are you embracing your duty to teach that message?

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