More Than A Fish Story

God called Jonah to go to the great city of Nineveh and call them to account for their great wickedness. Jonah responded by running. The Bible says he fled from the presence of the Lord. He bought a one way ticket on a ship bound for Tarshish. A great storm interrupted the journey, and Jonah knew he was the cause. To his credit he told the mariners to toss him into the tempest and the sea would grow calm. They reluctantly complied and the sea ceased from its raging. God had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. From the belly of this great sea creature Jonah cried out to his Creator, and God heard his voice. He was spit out on the seashore, and God spoke the second time and said, “Go to Nineveh and preach the message that I tell you.” Jonah went!
That’s not the whole story. Jonah preached, the people repented and over a hundred twenty thousand responded. Enough to make any evangelist ecstatic. Not this preacher. He went outside the city, sat down, pouted, and became angry with God for being so merciful. His greatest fear had come true, that the Lord would bestow forgiveness on Israel’s most hated enemy.
This story is a vivid reminder of the tendency in us to be more focused on our desire for what we believe is just, than on God’s desire to display His grace and mercy. Jesus addressed this issue in His parable about the workers in the vineyard. A landowner hired workers to tend his vineyard for the agreed price of a day’s wage. He hired men at 9AM, noon, 3PM and finally some just an hour before quitting time. When the owner paid a days wages to those who worked for only an hour, the all-day workers expected more. When they received the same, they were really sore.
The parable concludes with a probing question: “Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?”
Remember God’s grace, mercy and kindness is not earned. It is a gift, and His to give as He so choses. –Terry Morrison