I am of the opinion that apart from the basic story of God’s work in the world and the Gospel story of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the story of Jonah might be the most important story in the whole of the Bible. If not because of the core truths that it tries to get across, then because of its popularity throughout the history of the faith.
Well before the advent of Veggie Tales or the various cartoon versions of the Jonah story that I grew up with, Jonah was popular. Nearly every epoch of literary and artistic culture since the time of Jesus has contained some reference to the story of Jonah, suggesting that there is a timeless quality to the story that transcends even the catchiest tunes sung by animated vegetables.
Even Jesus quotes from and mentions the Book of Jonah with certain frequency in the Gospels. Can you imagine the boy Jesus learning the strange story of the reluctant prophet, the great fish and the unpredictable plant as a young man? Can you imagine all of his friends and family, his disciples and his detractors knowing it, too?
Take the opportunity of the beginning of Jonah’s story showing up in the weekly lectionary to refresh your own appreciation of this classic tale. Read it from the Bible. It doesn’t take very long.