This is a continuation of previous posts.
After the fish vomits out Jonah, he is given a second chance. Though Jonah reluctantly obeys God and peaches to the Ninevites their destruction to come, they listen and repent. Nineveh was one of the most powerful cities in the Ancient World, they had every right to ignore this message. But they don’t, they turn around and trust in Yahweh for their hope.
Jonah is taken aback by this, he hated God’s favor being shown to those who were not His people (Israelites). And so he pouts, and the book ends with God teaching Jonah a powerful lesson: that God loves these people that are not His own, and desires to show them mercy, despite what they’ve done. You see, Jonah, like the Israelites, has enjoyed fellowship with God, but is now tempted to acquire that power and act like God to others. And even though Jonah was shown mercy in the fish, he could not show mercy to those he hated.
Now, we serve a great God, who uses Jonah in both his obedience and disobedience! (The sailors come to God out of Jonah’s disobedience and the Ninevites out of his reluctant obedience). But we cannot manipulate Him, for He will always have His way. Although there is judgment to come, God withholds it and gives the Ninevites time to repent, and they do. And this is exactly what He does for me and you.
For hundreds of years later, another prophet came and walked among us; the greatest of them all. Jesus was a better Jonah. Instead of fleeing from His mission, He runs whole-heartedly towards it and embraces His call to have compassion on the lost. Jesus dedicates His life to revealing God to this unbelieving world, rebuking Israel for keeping the Kingdom exclusively for themselves. And Jesus’ heart for the lost and His claim to be God is exactly what gets Him killed.
Like Jonah being thrown overboard so that the sailor’s could live, Jesus is thrown out of the city and crucified so that we might live. But as He dies on the cross for their sins and ours, the first person to trust in that forgiveness was not a pious Jew, but rather a pagan Roman soldier, who proclaims, “Surely, this is the Son of God.”
Like Jonah in the belly of a fish, Jesus is hidden away in the depths of the earth for 3 days. He then rises from the dead, not for a second chance at His mission, but as a sign of a victorious mission. And my friends, that is the good news we are called to proclaim today, to all who are lost. Not us against them, but us for them.
The book ends with a question, but an answer is not given, because it’s up to you, the reader to respond.