Scripture from the ESV
Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.”
Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time,
God condescends to speak again to Jonah, as would a patient father. He leads Jonah as one would lead a horse back to a jump which it has shied from.
“Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.”
Though Jonah has been in the belly of the great fish, the word of God can retrieve him. Though Jonah is a stubborn man from a stubborn people, God deems him fit, indeed extraordinarily fit to proclaim His word. It is the stubborn who must repent, and it is the stubborn who can best know the mercy of God. Jonah is not merely carrying the message of repentance, but has become that message.
How could Jonah have preached repentance if he knew nothing of the need to repent. He goes not as an angel of God, but as one of God’s forgiven children. God never sends a message by one who is ignorant of the condition of the auditors. God’s message is not merely preached from on high as a law, but with feet on the ground to brothers and sisters.
Just as Jonah has been fitted for his mission, Christ as the Lamb of God carries the most complete message of God’s mercy. The forgiveness which Jonah receives, the patience God has on Nineveh is the forgiveness and patience of the cross. The message of Christ displays a yet more remarkable solidarity to those to whom it is preached. Christ willingly goes where Jonah must be dragged. Christ willing takes on the chastisement of sin, descending into the bowels of the earth, to enter into and defeat our sin and suffering. Jonah bears a likeness of death and resurrection, Christ truly underwent death.
Christ bears the sign of Jonah to declare his great love for us. It is from the belly of Sheol that all true Good news must be preached. Thus the cross, the sign of Jonah, is the only sign by which we might know the authenticity of any good news. Jonah’s message is authenticated by his own participation in sin and forgiveness. The good news of Christ is authenticated by the real death and resurrection of Christ. And it is the cross by which any true word is known to be true.
The Cross marks the intersection of realities, immanent and transcendent, mercy and justice, Jew and Gentile, Sinner and the Righteous, Condemnation and forgiveness, Israel and Nineveh.