Grace Equally Available


God cares.  He cares for the good and he cares for the wicked.  And when a single wicked person turns toward him, God is thrilled that one of his own has come home to him.  God’s amazing grace is available equally to each of us because he cares more than we know…

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?”

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 Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. 7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He 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?”
Jonah 4:1-11

When Nineveh turned toward God, not only was Jonah angry, we see that Jonah hoped their repentance didn’t last.  Jonah seems to be betting on Nineveh failing.  He went out of the city and made himself a shelter and sat in the shade, waiting to see what would happen to the city.  Would they make it?  Would they continue to follow God and abandon their sin, or would they crumble and return to their wicked ways?  

Jonah would love that, wouldn’t he?  I told you so! I knew it!  It won’t last.  They aren’t good enough for God and they’ll fail. They have no place in the kingdom of God or the church.  I can’t wait to see them go down…

Why do people think these things?  What a terrible hope for a fellow human.  I still remember one of my grandfather’s friends, a man I looked up to tremendously as a boy, told me when I turned to Jesus that it would never last longer than six months.

27 years and counting, dude.  Not perfect and as in need of God’s grace as I was day 1, yet the downer of his statement rings in my ears to this day.

God taught Jonah a lesson using the shade of a leafy plant.  Jonah was ticked when the plant died, and felt righteous in his anger.  God pointed out to him that as someone who had nothing to do with the plant growing or thriving, it was not for him to have concern about it.  Yet God, who made and nurtured Nineveh (whose citizens numbered over 120,000), had every right to be concerned for their well-being.

God cares.

He cares for the good and he cares for the wicked.  And when a single wicked person turns toward him, God is thrilled that one of his own has come home to him.  

Are you the Jonah or the Ninevite in this story?  There is something for all here.  And our lessons revolve around God’s amazing grace, which is available equally to each of us because he cares more than we can even understand…

Amen.

Marc Kinna

 

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