Published on March 19th, 2020 | by Stephen Barrington0
The signs of Jonah, Luke 11:29-32. March 4, 2020 by Buckshot
Nga mihi mahana e hoa ma, rangimarie ki a koutou katoa. Warm greetings friends, may peace be with you all. It is now the end of the first week of Lent, as we prepare for the unexpected events of Easter we have Luke 11:29-32, The sign of Jonah, as our gospel text today.
These few verses come in the midst of a collection that Luke has made of Jesus teaching on prayer; and it’s power. In verse 16 of this chapter 11 someone asks Jesus ‘for a sign from heaven’, as a test. Today Jesus says to them, and us, that ‘the only sign that will be given is the sign of Jonah’!
This comical old testament character, that classic failure of a prophet who ran away from God, got thrown overboard for being that crazy crew member, got spewed from the whale’s mouth and then lost his temper at God over a withering plant. During this episode he preached to the people of Nineveh about their need to repent, not expecting them to listen – yet they did.
Jesus also speaks of the Queen of the South (Queen of Sheba, in modern Ethiopia) and her visit to learn from Solomon. Both the people of Nineveh and this Queen will ‘rise up’ up at the final judgement and condemn the generation that was refusing to listen to Jesus. The words ‘rise’ in the original language was the same word for ‘resurrection’ at that time. There is great hope for us in this that these non-Jewish outsiders were recognised by Jesus as being examples of faith in the way they acted.
As we continue our journey of fasting, searching and seeking to change our actions to be more in line with the kingdom ways of Jesus may this encourage us. May we be open to the prophetic voice of the outsider; even the comical or irrational one that is calling us to repent and change. Still today, there are prophets calling for us to repent and change the way we live to avoid ‘extinction’ – our mainstream consumer life could well kill us as we deplete our oceans and destroy eco-systems that maintain life on earth.
The Sign of Jonah – this week may we be open to that voice from the outside calling us to change. It is becoming no surprise to me to see the marks of the Kingdom far from the places that brand themselves as being the keepers of the Kingdom. As expected, in recent weeks many times, the welcome, the manaakitanga and hospitality, the excitement and engagement with Christ has been evident in those far off and secluded places we frequent as Squad.
The sign of Jonah is a challenge to the perfect and powerful – and hope for the battler, struggling to find a way forward. Have faith friends, God sees you and maybe speaking to us of that love and hope from an unexpected quarter.
As you continue to fast and pray quietly, as you continue to choose life and treasure everlasting things may the Spirit of God give you grace and strength to walk with Jesus through Lent. The Jerusalem cross was not on the disciples minds at this point, it was something they did not want to know about. But, with hindsight we know its liberating power – therefore let’s choose to continue to follow Jesus, to invest our hearts in his treasure, and be open to the call from the outer edge and live his Kingdom into reality.
Buckshot- Wellington chapter, New Zealand