I spent the last 12 hours being sick after my kids gladly shared their stomach bug with me. So this will be short, then it’s back to bed. Last week I mentioned that I would spend this week looking at why the Book of Jonah presents itself as a non-historical account. But then I remembered it is Easter week and I could not bring myself to post such an academic series during Holy Week. Why? For two reasons.
First, I often fool myself into thinking that talking about the Bible is to be confronted by the Bible. But the goal of reading Scripture is never to understand it intellectually but to have our very lives changed by it. That is, we spend our time dismissing the Bible or defending the Bible, which can both be ways of ignoring the Bible. We create theories about the Bible but every theory takes us one step further from the Bible itself, from hearing a fresh word from God in the reading of the text. But this week, I want to be confronted by Jesus, not create theories about him. I want to read the stories as stories and not construct cathedrals of doctrine out of them.
Second, as we enter Holy Week I am once again reminded that my faith is found in the mundane and not the spectacular. Jesus was not recognized as Messiah while he was alive, he “had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem” (Isa. 53:2b–3).
If I want to be like Jesus I have to lay down the self-worth and value I find in celebrity, being known, doing “great things for God” and find it in obeying God in the small things. So this week I want to focus on the life of Jesus, not writing out all the lofty reasons Jonah shouldn’t be read historically. We’ll get there next week, but this is not the week for it.
“Cowardice wants only to concern itself with the really important,big things, not in order to carry something out wholeheartedly but to be flattered by doing something that is noble and great. Yet hiding behind the exalted is nothing but an excuse for not conquering all the little things…”
-Soren Kierkegaard, 18 Upbuilding Discourses