Written by Hyo G. Kim, Pastor of the West Brunswick Charge in Farmville, VA.

Jesus eats a fish; a fish eats Jonah.

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Jonah is a book about God’s calling for repentance, obedience, salvation, grace, and so much more. It is one of the well-known stories that even people who never read the Bible know. Most people think of Jonah, who ran from God and was then swallowed up by a fish.

Yes, the “a big fish story” part of Jonah has intrigued me for a long time. Regardless of this book’s significant meaning, I was always obsessed with the story related to a fish. “How could a fish swallow up a human?” “Wow! Jonah survived from a fish belly.”

However, there is also an opportunity to find connections and play with the analogical meaning of fish between Jesus and Jonah. What makes these two characters different? It is obedience. Jonah ran from the difficult calling God gave Him (Jonah 1:3), whereas Jesus perfectly obeyed God’s will and went to the cross. Interestingly, I found the difference in how they play with a fish. The Bible challenges us, “Are you gonna eat a fish or let a fish eat you up?” This impractical question is asked and determines our character of obedience in faith. 

A fish is often used as an intermediary in scenes where obedience needs to be explained.

An obedient little boy brings five loaves and two fishes. Consequently, many people could share fish to eat. What would people think while eating those fishes?

When Jesus was just resurrected and appeared to disciples, He asked them to bring food. They gave him a piece of broiled fish (Luke 24:42). What would they think while resurrected Jesus was eating a piece of fish?

Undoubtedly, a fish is considered as a food in those contexts in the Bible. The laws of nature and the logic of the cycle of life are simple. To live, people must eat food. From this point of view, obedience thus eating a fish is not simply an act of following. This is the matter of life.

Are you going to live by eating fish? Or are you eaten by a fish and die?

A big fish ate disobedient Jonah for three days. What would Jonah think of himself for three days in a fish belly?

I remember being an 8-year-old and going fishing with my father for the first time in my life. Before throwing the fishing rod, my father said, “Wait a minute, I’ll teach you how to fish!” I couldn’t wait and threw a fishing rod without listening to my father’s advice, thinking of catching that big, nice fish. What was the cost of disobedience? The fishing hook I threw caught on my forehead and was pulling at my flesh. I was in pain and said to myself. “I came to fish but caught myself in pain.”

Are you ready to follow Jesus? Are you ready to fish?

Jesus called the disciples and said, “Follow me, I will make you become fishers of men” (Mark 1:17).

Remember that Jesus ate a fish, and a fish ate Jonah. Which one are you?