5 Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city.
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Jonah had found himself a good vantage point from which to observe God’s punishment come upon the city of Nineveh.
Do you recall the parable of the prodigal sons and the joy of the compassionate father running through the village to welcome home the younger son who had disgraced his family and village?
The parable finishes with the unanswered question about the response of the elder son who had remained home. Would this son respond positively to the Father’s plea to join in the celebration of the younger son’s return? My son, the father said, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. (Luke 15:31,32)
Do I rejoice when people turn to Christ or do I wish that they had ‘got what they deserved’? Do I love what God loves?
Thomas Carlisle’s poem You! Jonah! closes with these lines:
And Jonah stalked
to his shaded seat
and waited for God
to come around to his way of thinking.
And God is still waiting for a host of Jonah’s
in their comfortable houses
to come around to his way of loving.
[Thomas Carlisle, You! Jonah! (Eerdmans, 1968)]
Reconciling God, help me to celebrate your grace and compassion as people turn to you. Give me your heart of love for all peoples. Amen.