The absurd thing that happens in the book of Jonah is not the fish swallowing a man…it is the grace Jonah receives after he basically tells God off! The fish, which consumes the prophet, serves as an indictment on how sin turns everything topsy-turvy. It reverses God’s order in the worst way. Man was made to have dominion over the fish of the sea, and in condemning the pride that prefers the creation over the creator, God does something that shows the exceedingly stupid nature of sin for what it is. Our rebellion against God is both foolish and a joke…and the punchline is that we take ourselves too seriously.

God will put a man in a fish (where he doesn’t belong) to show us how dumb we look in our sinful condition. But what is weirder or more outlandish than a fish swallowing a man? A God hanging on a cross… A man rising from the dead… God trumps our idiocy with His foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:25) and wins ten times out of ten.

A fish swallowing a man is a reversal of man dominating the creation…sin is ridiculous. But Jesus’ resurrection is more so… I heard it said once that “God knows it is hard for us to obey…” Yes, but better news is that obedience was ‘easy’ for Jesus, and He made righteousness eternally possible for us.

God got Jonah to the ‘place of obedience’ not by way of ‘law’ (Jonah 1:1-2), but by way of death. It is the same for us. We are not brought finally to a place of loving our neighbor by being commanded to do so, but by dying. But much like the runaway prophet (and we are all running from God), even when death does get us to the place where we obey, it is at best half-hearted, insincere obedience.

One thing never changes: we are and always will be justified by the ‘better Jonah’…even in the midst of justifying ourselves. (Jonah 4:9: “It is right for me to be angry at You, God!”) In fact, no amount of justifying ourselves can undo the secure justification we have eternally in Jesus Christ.