Jesus often referred to himself as the Son of Man. Paul speaks of him as a second Adam in 1 Cor. 15:22: “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” While this is absolutely true, in some significant ways Jesus also can be viewed as a second Noah. Or conversely, Noah’s story was a foreshadowing of Christ’s salvation story.
For example, there was no salvation outside of Noah’s boat, as Pastor Jeff Porte said in his sermon a few weeks ago at Centerpoint Church. The only way to live was to be with Noah, to have followed Noah, to have been close enough to him to have been invited into the boat. That was the only way to avoid destruction. Jesus is so much more, but he is our Life Boat. He is life. Being with him is the only way to stay alive.
I appreciated that comparison but I think the parallels in the stories doesn’t end there. There are a few more similar themes. First, Christ was tempted in the desert for 40 days. For Noah, the rain kept coming for 40 days. Probably some of the same prayers were sent up to heaven from both of these men during that time. Can you imagine? Noah might have often prayed, “Lord, please just take this water away.” That sounds a lot like “Father, if you are willing take this cup from me.”(Luke 22:42) More about that cup, coming right up . . .
Later when Jesus was baptized by his cousin John he was baptized with water. He went down into the water. Though Noah didn’t go into the water (although maybe he went out for a swim now and again on a calm day–why not?) everything else familiar to him did go under. His whole external life was bathed in purifying waves of justice. One of the things I remember most about the movie Noah that came out earlier this year was when Noah, played by Russel Crowe, answers a family member who asks why God is destroying the world with water instead of fire. He says that fire destroys but water cleanses.
After Jesus came up out of the water came the dove that descended upon Jesus with the voice from heaven announcing to the crowd “This is my son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matt.3:17) There he was, soaking wet with a bird on his shoulder, the hope of the world. Noah sent out a dove from his boat the second time and it returned with an olive leaf–a silent statement of joy, praise, and of course–hope. After both of their encounters with waters of renewal there is a dove, a dove with a message of hope for life anew.
Where there is life, there is also blood. Noah the movie reminded me that Noah was the first man to cultivate grapes and make wine from them. He established vines and grew the fruit for harvest. While celebrating passover with his disciples before his death, Jesus took a cup of wine and said “This is cup is the new covenant in my blood.” (Luke 22:20) Noah made the first physical wine, Jesus made it a symbol of his divine sacrifice.
After Noah and his family came out of the boat onto dry land he built an altar and sacrificed burnt offerings to God on it. The aroma was pleasing to God, says Genesis 8:21, and God promised to never again curse the ground because of evil humanity or destroy all living creatures. This was the Noahic covenant. But never was God more pleased with an offering than when his own perfect son Christ Jesus offered up his own self, his own divine place on the throne, his indescribably beautiful relationship to Father God to take on the burden of all sin and die as an atonement for this world of people they made and love so much. Christ’s new covenant assures that we can be free from not just an earthly temporal curse like in Genesis, but from the grip of eternal death.
Scripture is living and breathing. The more you study it the more you find. It’s a gold mine for analysis-loving literature junkies. With God as the author of this amazing book and of life itself, God’s holy text makes for the ultimate comparitive literature study. Its the only literature you are actually living and that can live in you.