Open Your Bible
Jonah 4:1-11, Matthew 9:36, Matthew 10:29, Acts 11:15-18, Romans 5:6-11, Psalm 103:8
Text: Jonah 4:1-11, Matthew 9:36, Matthew 10:29, Acts 11:15-18, Romans 5:6-11, Psalm 103:8
This is part of a 7-day series on Jonah in the Lent 2016 reading plan.
At the end of chapter four, we find Jonah throwing a childlike tantrum in response to God’s extravagant mercy on a city full of eye-gouging sinners—the same extravagant mercy Jonah himself received inside the gut of a fish (Jonah 2:10).
The Bible tells us in Romans 1:16 (and many other places) that Jesus Christ came to save the Jew and the Gentile—everyone—and that there is no distinction. But do you ever find yourself, like Jonah, subscribing to a gospel of entitlement? Or maybe God’s tender mercy toward anyone He chooses sits quite comfortably with you, but the call to love others in that same undiscriminating way is harder to swallow (see James 2:1-12).
Whether regarding God’s love or your own, are you ever tempted toward a members-only mentality?
We are not entitled to God’s love. Not because of our nationality or upbringing, not because of our bank accounts or marital status, not even because of our charitable giving or our care for widows and orphans.
Scripture says that what we are entitled to is death.
Whoa. It sounds harsh, but it’s true (Romans 6:23). And here’s why it is important to say this harsh truth out loud: we cannot know the depth of God’s grace if we do not know the depth of our need.
I love how Matthew 9:36 describes God’s heart toward us, His needy children:
“When [Jesus] saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a Shepherd.”
Do you hear the tenderness in those words? Jesus saw those crowds of people, and He sees us, as we really, truly are: weary and worn out. Utterly lost and hopeless in sin and despair, and desperately in need of a loving Shepherd. And in His great mercy, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. And for Jonah. And for the people of Nineveh. And for all of the unlovables.
Christ loves the unlovables. And we are all the unlovables.
The compassion the Lord shows the Ninevites stands in stark contrast to Jonah’s contempt for them. Yes, he had obeyed and gone to Nineveh like God commanded. But when the Lord’s purposes were fulfilled there, Jonah was enraged. The condition of his proud heart prevented him from seeing that, while the Lord had been pursuing Nineveh, the Lord had also been pursuing him. The Ninevites’ wickedness was a mirror, showing Jonah the ugliness of his own sin.
Understanding the depth of our sin not only shows us the depths of God’s mercy, it enables us to pour out God’s love and compassion on those around us. For all have sinned and fallen short—including me, including you, including the prophet chosen by God to deliver the message of salvation to the entire city of Nineveh. All of us.
If we walk away from our reading of the book of Jonah with one thing, know this:
God’s mercy is far-reaching. It is deep and wide and for you.
Thanks be to God!
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”