Vigil of Easter

Readings: Genesis 1:1-2:3 | Genesis 7:1-5, 11-18; 8:6-18; 9:8-13

Exodus 14:10-15:1 | Mark 16:1-8

Text: Jonah 3

  • In the sophisticated thinking of higher critics, Jonah is not to be thought of as historically accurate. After all, how often has a fish been large enough to swallow a man? They doubt it because it seems too fantastical to be true.
  • The view of self that holds sway today says that we are more powerful, more masters over nature and the future. After all, every intelligent person knows that these times are more advanced and different from the past. We’ve evolved, don’t you know, you Neanderthal?
  • Jonah himself suffered for his own idolatry. He put his ways above God’s. When he did, how did that work out for him? Could he not find respite because of his own tormented god-consciousness? Or was there indeed a God of heaven who had chosen him to preach a small but powerful Word?
  • Consider these verses:
    • 7The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire. 8The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.” (Psalm 29:7–8)
    • 6The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.” (Psalm 46:6)
      • 6By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.” (Psalm 33:6)

In our reserved, sterile minds, we might take these words figuratively. That doesn’t really mean that God’s voice comes out in fire or earthquakes. I’ve never seen the earth melt! Because it’s so far removed from our daily experience, we accept only intellectually that God created by His Word, the same as people intellectually assent to the theory that all things came from a “big bang.”

  • May the Word of God preached topple the idols we have today and put us in sackcloth and ashes, just as it did in Nineveh. There is a piece making the rounds in churches by Eric Metaxas, called A Letter to American Churches. I agree with him that Christians need to wake up from their suburban, comfortable and culturally acceptable Christianity. This is truly a time for us to wake up from the denial that our world is not Sodom and Gomorrah, and that we are not living in proud Tyre and Sidon, against which the Lord will bring disaster. I disagree with Metaxas, however, that the tipping point will be in the number of Christians who speak up.
  • One lone Hebrew went into the great city of Nineveh, and preached eight words to strangers. Before you know it, even the king is proclaiming a fast. Proud pagans to cowering sinners, asking, “Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” (Jonah 3:9)
  • We are the church on earth, given that same all-powerful Word to confess before men. And confess we must, lest we be like salt that is bound to be trampled by men’s feet. For as many individual cases of apathy or rebellion, it is not the Word which has failed. God has not granted them repentance yet. On we believe, teach, and confess that God’s Word is living and active.

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen.