Jonah had zero love for the people of Nineveh, preached bitterly, and angrily awaited God’s fiery judgment on the city and its people. Despite all this, they repented! How amazing it is that God used the utterly self-centered Jonah to bring salvation to the people of Nineveh?
Jonah is a picture of Jesus. Not in that he reflects perfectly, but that (as Jesus himself explained in Matthew 12:40-41) Jonah points us to the greater. Jonah fled from the Lord’s call; Jesus submitted willingly. Jonah was raised from the depths of the sea; Jesus was raised from the depths of the grave. Jonah preached the gospel with bitterness; Jesus preached with the utmost love. Jonah selfishly desired death to escape his misery; Jesus selflessly took upon himself the most horrendous of miseries and death, so we might escape eternal damnation.
Jonah angrily demanded, “NOT YOUR WILL, BUT MINE!” Jesus in tears, cried out “Father, not my will, but yours be done.” How grateful we should be for the selfless sacrifice of our Savior. If God brought a great salvation to the people of Nineveh through the likes of Jonah, how much greater the salvation he brings through his Son? Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
Are you distracted by your own selfishness? Do you do well to be angry at the circumstances of life? Jonah was so irrational in his anger that he demanded the death of 120,000 children — and he was willing to give up his life for a plant. Jonah’s situation seems ridiculous, but the heart of the matter is not that far fetched. What small comfort means more to you than the souls of the lost?
Today, and in this New Year, may we fix our eyes again on our gracious Savior. May the Lord fill us with thankfulness for his mercy, with a love for his people, and especially with a love for the lost and for his mission of salvation.