Day 19

O Come, Merciful Savior

Jonah 1:1-12, Jonah 2:1-10, Matthew 12:38-41

BY Guest Writer

If there was ever a reluctant preacher, Jonah was it. Not only did the prophet ignore a direct order from God to preach to the city of Nineveh, but he also headed in the opposite direction. Now, I’m not sure how thoroughly he thought through this particular plan, but it did not end well for him. All his running earned him was a near-shipwreck and a three-day/three-night stay in the belly of a great fish. And then he still had to go preach to the city of Nineveh.

The outcome was incredible, though. In fact, the turning of the Ninevites’ hearts may be one of the greatest revivals ever recorded. Jonah preached a seven-word sermon (Jonah 3:4), and everyone in the city fasted and repented, even the livestock! The story is a remarkable display of God’s mercy and His desire to extend that mercy to those who did not know Him. The Ninevites were not God’s people. They were outsiders, but through their story, God demonstrated His steadfast intention to redeem all the nations of the world.

In Matthew 12, Jesus references this famed story when pressed by the religious elite to prove the legitimacy of His God-given authority. In turn, He rebukes those leaders, telling them they are slaves to the spirit of the age, members of an evil and adulterous generation (vv.38–39). When I read these verses, I feel the tension there and wonder, Shouldn’t these religious leaders, the ones who were most familiar with the promises and faithfulness of God, be able to recognize the Son of God standing before them? Imagine them there, demanding that the Son of God demonstrate His authority! It sounds preposterous, but in some ways, it’s a demand I make of Him on a daily basis.

In Jesus’s rebuke of the scribes and Pharisees lies the opportunity to turn their hearts back toward the truth. In reminding them of Nineveh’s repentance, Jesus assures them, “something greater than Jonah is here” (v.41). He was speaking the absolute truth! While Jonah’s story was marked by disobedience, Jesus’s entire earthly ministry was built on obedience and submission to the will of the Father. Jonah desired to see the Ninevites destroyed for their sin. In contrast, Jesus didn’t come to condemn the sinful in the world but, in the greatest act of compassion, lived and died to bring all to everlasting life (John 12:47).

It’s my prayer that my own heart would be soft and receptive to the work of God in the world today, especially in places where I don’t usually expect to see Him. I don’t want to be so fixated on the busyness of being a Christian that I miss opportunities to walk in repentance and extend mercy to others. As we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and anticipate His return, let us aspire to emulate the compassionate nature of our Savior—the perfect example of grace, mercy, and obedience.

Erin Rose lives and works in vibrant Richmond, Virginia, where she serves as Worship & Teaching Pastor at East End Fellowship. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia, and is currently enrolled as a graduate student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Erin is a member of Urban Doxology, a ministry that is writing the soundtrack of reconciliation for the church. Her greatest joy lies in leading God’s people in authentic worship, and teaching them the truth found in God’s Word. She also enjoys eating delicious food, spending time with loved ones, and indulging in the occasional Netflix binge.

Post Comments (57)

57 thoughts on "O Come, Merciful Savior"

  1. Kelley Rice says:

    I often think about the ways that the sin in my past has shaped the opportunities I’ve had in my life. I wonder what God’s original plan for me looked like, and how my sin has altered it. Until now, I’ve never seen this perspective of Jonah presented; How despite his rebellion, God still used him in a mighty way. I’m so thankful to serve a God who is more powerful than my sinful heart, who can use my past failures to bring Him glory.

  2. Dee Wilcox says:

    I love that God sent Jonah to the Ninevites, people who were not yet God’s people, and this is the foreshadowing he planned for Jesus. I’m sure that was mind-boggling for Jonah at that time! But God has been intent on bringing all of the nations back to himself. The Israelites were His people, but He has always been about bringing those on the outside back in.

  3. Michelle S says:

    Danielle, I completely understand. For a very long time I always felt like something was missing in my walk of faith. My advice from experience is to seek out a time of worship to God (for me, it’s music in my car). Allow the words to speak to you what God has done or what promises you are waiting for and praise Him for them. A good song to start with is Build My Life by Housefires. And also, ask for the Holy Spirit to show you ways to intentionally act out your faith…and then listens and obey. There truly is a more to this walk in faith than what you are felling right now. Much love to you, as you continue in your journey.

  4. Beth says:

    Sophie, the Catholic Church put the day of His death as Fri., but those of us that study the Bible and don’t follow the traditions of men believe Christ died on Wed. or Thurs. afternoon. The discrepancy in those two days is whether you count Sat. night or not. We don’t know if Christ rose at the beginning of the evening of Sat. or if he stayed in the tomb til the early morning of Sun. If He arose Sat. evening (after 6 pm, because that is when the new day starts for the Jews, and that would have been the beginning of their Sun.), then to be three days and three nights He would have died on Wed. afternoon (on the ninth hour of the Jewish time, 3 pm for us). If He stayed in the tomb till early, just before sunrise on Sun. morning (Matt. 28:1), then the three days and three nights would have been from Thurs. afternoon

  5. Paige Hoover says:

    one of my favorite passages of Scripture is Psalm 116 and I never realized that Jonah’s words in the belly of the whale are pretty much the same words of Psalm 116!!! check it out for yourself!

  6. Danielle Talerico says:

    I feel like there is something missing in my walk of faith; I have climbed out of a season where I hid from the Lord. I have gone back to church, stepped up my prayer life and have invited God unto my home and heart. But I still feel like something is missing.

    1. Amy Wolfe says:

      I’m praying for you Danielle. Just keep surrendering and trusting Him. He will show you what is missing. Praying you sense His great love for you today.

    2. Ann Rowland says:

      I feel the same way at times and that’s when I realize that I need to walk out my faith in more concrete ways. I seek out opportunities to bless another person, even if it is just letting them go in front of me at the store. The world can always use more kindness and as Christians, we are to walk in the fruits of the Spirit.

  7. Ashley White says:


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