Monday after Quasimodogeniti
Scripture: Jonah 1:1-16 (NKJV)
1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” 3 But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.
4 But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up.
5 Then the mariners were afraid; and every man cried out to his god, and threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten the load. But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep.
6 So the captain came to him, and said to him, “What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish.”
7 And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this trouble has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. 8 Then they said to him, “Please tell us! For whose cause is this trouble upon us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?”
9 So he said to them, “I am a Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”
10 Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and said to him, “Why have you done this?” For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. 11 Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us?”—for the sea was growing more tempestuous.
12 And he said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me.”
13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to return to land, but they could not, for the sea continued to grow more tempestuous against them. 14 Therefore they cried out to the Lord and said, “We pray, O Lord, please do not let us perish for this man’s life, and do not charge us with innocent blood; for You, O Lord, have done as it pleased You.” 15 So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the Lord and took vows.
Jonah did not want God to forgive the Ninevites (see 4:2). Like the older brother of the prodigal son who would not enter into the feast (Luke 15), Jonah did not want to admit the Gentile Ninevites into fellowship with the Jews.
The Jews had been graced with God’s salvation freely and without merit. They were supposed to be the bearers of this salvation to the Gentiles—a light for revelation to the Gentiles. As they had freely received, so they could freely give. Nevertheless, many of them didn’t understand God’s purpose. They feared that letting Gentiles into Christ’s Church would be the end of the Jewish nation, and with it the end of the temple, circumcision, distinctions of foods, etc. They were partly right. When the reality comes the shadow goes away. The fulfillment of the Old Testament was a Christ-created New Testament Church without the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament. In the New Testament Church there would be neither circumcised nor uncircumcised. What mattered was faith in Jesus Christ.
It took Peter’s vision from God (Acts 10) and the accompanying signs to get the Apostles to change their idea of “preaching the word to no one but the Jews only” (Acts 11:19). Just as Jonah knew his disobedience deserved death, so have our sins angered God. No matter how that Word came to you, it is by grace you have been saved. Through the Word we were brought to repentance and then to righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ.
We pray: O Lord, we give You thanks for rescuing us from what our sins have deserved. Give us new hearts to freely give, even as we have received. Amen.