(Jonah) wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”
9 But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”
“It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”
10 But the LORD said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’
God persists in confronting Jonah with his wrong attitudes towards the Ninevites.
God’s first question is testing: Is it right for you to be angry about the plant? To which Jonah answers: It is, and declares for the second time: I wish I were dead! (Jonah 4:9) Jonah has got himself into quite a state!
God’s second question challenges Jonah: Should I not have concern…? It seems clear to me that God would answer his own question this way: Of course, I should have concern! I am the LORD of all. Look, Jonah, at what I have been doing!
God has an underlying question here which is addressed to Jonah and, indeed, to all of God’s people: If I, God, have concern, should not therefore my people be also concerned? And God’s people should answer: Yes, we are concerned! This is God’s question and the answer he patiently sought from Jonah and which runs throughout the Book of Jonah.
Will God’s people, you and I, care for that for which God cares? Do I really care for non-Christian people? Do I yearn for them to become disciples of Christ? Is my vision of God and God’s world, God’s vision: to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)
God of love and life, give me your heart for your world. Strengthen me through your Holy Spirit, your word and your people to fulfill your purposes in the world you love. Amen.