The waters engulfed me up to the neck; the watery depths overcame me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. I sank to the foundations of the mountains; the earth with its prison bars closed behind me forever! But You raised my life from the Pit, Lord my God!Jonah 2:5-6 (HCSB)
Here we have in Jonah’s prayer a ‘type’—a shadow—of the sufferings of Jesus Christ. The despair that Jonah felt could only ever be a pale reflection of the despair that fell upon the Son of God, who had always, from before all time began, been in perfect communion and relationship with His Father.
Why did this despair fall upon Christ? “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). When Jesus took upon Himself all our sin, when He became our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), He was cast out of fellowship and relationship with His Father, just as our sin separates us from the Father. Words fail to describe or imagine what this must have been like for Jesus. Truly the depths overcame Jesus. Around His head was not wrapped soft seaweed but a painful and sharp crown of thorns. Eventually, Jesus slumped in death; from the cross He fell to the ground as the nails were removed. He was placed in the earth, in the foundations of the mountains, with a stone rolled across the entrance, like prison bars enclosing Him forever in the tomb of death.
“But You raised my life from the Pit, Lord my God!” cries Jonah. After three days Jonah is vomited up on the earth. Just like Jonah, we find that after three days, death vomits up Jesus and He is raised from the Pit, from Sheol, from death. Because Jesus has been through such horrors, we may know that He sympathises with us and can empathise with us when we experience our own trials and crucifixions. When finally we face our death, we can do so without fear because we know that, where Christ went before us, we shall follow—just as God raised up Jesus from death, so He shall raise us up on the Last Day.