Thursday after Quasimodogeniti
Scripture: Jonah 4:1-11 (NKJV)
1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry. 2 So he prayed to the Lord, and said, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. 3 Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!”
4 Then the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?”
5 So Jonah went out of the city and sat on the east side of the city. There he made himself a shelter and sat under it in the shade, till he might see what would become of the city. 6 And the Lord God prepared a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be shade for his head to deliver him from his misery. So Jonah was very grateful for the plant. 7 But as morning dawned the next day God prepared a worm, and it so damaged the plant that it withered. 8 And it happened, when the sun arose, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat on Jonah’s head, so that he grew faint. Then he wished death for himself, and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”
9 Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”
And he said, “It is right for me to be angry, even to death!”
10 But the Lord said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?”
The LORD is teaching Jonah the meaning of the fifth petition, “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Jonah was sent to bring the threat of punishment, and then the gracious promise of forgiveness, to his enemies. Like all of us, the Prophet Jonah needed God’s grace to come to faith, and he, further, needed God’s grace to remain in true faith.
Grace is “the free goodness of God, His favor, His benevolence, and His mercy, by which not according to our works and worthiness but out of sheer mercy, for the sake of Christ, God receives into grace sinners who are repentant and flee in faith to the Mediator, and He accepts them into eternal life with their sins forgiven and the righteousness of Christ imputed to them” (Loci Theologici, Chemnitz, p.523).
“Although we may have the Word of God, though we may believe, do his will or suffer it to be done, and nourish ourselves with the gifts and blessings of God, yet this life does not proceed without sin; for we still daily digress much, and exceed proper bounds, while we live in this world among people, who cause us a great deal of sorrow, and give us occasion for impatience, wrath, and revenge. And besides this, we are pursued by the devil…” (Large Catechism, III, 86-87). The need for God’s continual forgiveness breaks our pride and keeps us humble.
We pray: Gracious and merciful God, Who is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and Who relents from doing harm, take away my pride and anger so that, saved by grace, I may freely forgive others. Amen.