The similarities between Jonah and Jesus
It should come as no surprise that in the New Testament we see clear examples of a Hebrew way of presenting histories. The writers were Jews, except for Luke. And a large part of the recipients were Jews. So we can expect that the way the Gospels, for example, portray the history of Jesus is steeped in Jewish culture.
A clear example of Hebrew history is that events are told in such a way that the attentive reader cannot help but think back to a previous time when something similar happened. And if we then place the two histories side by side, the idea is to look for the differences, because there is a message in that.
In this article we will look at the story of Jesus calming a storm on the Sea of Galilee in this way. We find this history in Mark 4.
Jesus calms a storm – Jonah calms a storm
The history of Jesus has many similarities with the history we find in Jonah 1. Below is a brief overview of the similarities:
- Jonah wants to make a crossing; Jesus goes to the other side
- In both cases a violent storm arises
- Jonah's ship fills with water; with Jesus the ship is in danger of sinking
- Jonah was sleeping in the hold of the boat; Jesus was sleeping in the back
- Jonah is awakened by the others on the ship; Jesus is awakened by His disciples
- In both cases they indicate that the ship is in danger of sinking
- After the storm has subsided, in both cases people are impressed by the power of God/Jesus
It is clear that Mark wants to remind readers of the story of Jonah. And if we read carefully, two differences stand out. In the case of Jonah we see that the bystanders see the hand of God and believe Him. However, the disciples are admonished by Jesus and asked why they still do not believe. They should have realized when the storm arose that Jesus is mightier than this storm.
But there is also a second difference. Jonah was willing to sacrifice himself to stop the storm and save the life of the other person on board. However, in the end God provided salvation and Jonah was spared. Jesus was able to calm the storm Himself. This makes it clear that He is greater than Jonah. But we also see a foreshadowing to the end of the Gospel. For Jesus did sacrifice Himself for our sake.
We cannot help but think of Jesus' comment in Matt. 12:39-41 about the sign of Jonah. As Jonah was three days and nights in the great fish, so Jesus was three days in the grave. Jonah was saved by God's intervention. Jesus is our salvation if we believe in Him.
The story in which Jesus calms the storm on the Sea of Galilee is more than a miracle in which the power of Jesus becomes visible. Above all, it is a call to readers to consider whether they are willing to accept that Jesus is the Messiah who gave His life for the salvation of all who believe in Him. This message is underlined because the writer's choice of words invites the reader to draw a parallel with the story of Jonah. This is a typical example of a Hebrew way of telling.