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Labour in vain

‘Jonah said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you. Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not.’ Jonah 1:12–13

Suggested Further Reading: Matthew 12:38–42

Jesus came down into this ship of our common humanity to deliver it from tempest. The vessel had been tossed about on all sides by the waves of divine wrath. Men had been tugging and toiling at the oar; year after year philosopher and teacher had been seeking to establish peace with God; victims had been offered and rivers of blood had flowed, and even the first-born of man’s body had been offered up; but the deep was still tempestuous. But Jesus came, and they took him and cast him overboard. Out of the city they dragged him; ‘Away with him, away with him, it is not fit that he should live.’ As he, Jesus dies, there is a calm. Deep was the peace which fell upon the earth that dreadful day; and joyous is that calm which yet shall come as the result of the casting out of that representative man who ‘suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.’ Brethren I wish I had suitable words with which I could fitly describe the peace which comes to a human heart when we learn to see Jesus cast into the sea of divine wrath on our account. Conscience accuses no longer. Judgment now decides for the sinner instead of against him. Memory can look back upon past sins, with sorrow for the sin it is true, but yet with no dread of any penalty to come. It is a blessed thing for a man to know that he cannot be punished, that heaven and earth may shake, but he cannot be punished for his sin.

For meditation: Jonah was a type of Christ. He was sent by God (Jonah 1:1–2; 1 John 4:10); sacrificed as God’s gift to save the perishing (Jonah 1:6,11–15; John 3:16); swallowed and buried (Jonah 1:17; 1 Corinthians 15:4a); surfacing again (Jonah 2:10; 1 Corinthians 15:4b); successful (Jonah 3:5,10; Luke 24:46–47). At every point ‘a greater than Jonas is here’ (Matthew 12:41).

Sermon no. 567
1 May (1864)

365 Days with C.H. Spurgeon, Vol. 2: A Unique Collection of 365 Daily Readings from Sermons Preached by Charles Haddon Spurgeon from His Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit (365 Days With Series); edited by Terence Peter Crosby; (c) Day One Publications, 2002.
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