1 But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. 2 He prayed to the LORD, “Isn’t this what I said, LORD, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
4 But the LORD replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?”
Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.
Jonah chapter 4 is about Jonah’s distressed response to God’s mercy towards the Ninevites. The mission of the prophet to the Ninevites now gives way to God’s continuing work in the life of his servant.
Jonah is aggrieved and angry at the Lord’s compassion on the Ninevites. Indeed, this is the very thing that Jonah feared would happen from the very beginning! Isn’t this what I said, LORD, when I was still at home?
Jonah is a person who knows grace (Jonah 2:9), responds to grace (Jonah 3:3a) and yet is incensed at grace being extended to the enemies of his people. In fact, having seen this great act of God’s compassion, he is so angry and depressed that he wants to die!
Jesus showed God’s heart of love towards all people, including those who were ‘unacceptable’: the Samaritan woman, the thief on the cross, the tax collector and the prostitute.
Can we love as God loves? Where do we receive the love that will motivate us to go to the ‘unacceptable’ people?
The Apostle Paul reminds us that we can exercise love and mercy, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.(Romans 5:5)
Transforming God, fill us with your love, courage and wisdom. Give us the capacity to work boldly, and with humility, embracing the challenge of mission. Use us to bring transforming life to our Christian communities and all Australians. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.