Let’s contrast Jonah and Jesus;
Jonah knew that repentance brings compassion, and this displeased him greatly. What displeased Jonah pleased Jesus. Jesus knew that the repentance and sacrifice he made would result in compassion. Jesus says in John 3 that just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the son of man be lifted up, be killed…that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life. Jesus knew the sacrifice He would make would result in compassion.
Jonah looked at Nineveh and was angry and wanted destruction. Jesus looked at the city of Jerusalem and wept in Luke 19 because He loved the people so much He wanted to spare them…“Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.”
Both were sent to hostile people. Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian Empire, a terrible, evil place. Jesus came to save sinners, healthy people don’t need a doctor,do they, and in Ephesians 2 we see that Jesus came for us, who by nature are children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Jonah ran from God because he knew God would be kind and compassionate. Jesus ran to the Father. He was about His Father’s business continually. He communed with the Father continually.
Contrary to most interpretations of the book of Jonah, we are not Jonah in this story in need of moral exhortation. We are Nineveh.
We need a Saviour who shows us what God is like, who knows what God is like.
Our response is to be the same as those in Nineveh who heard the words of Jonah; repent and receive God’s mercy and steadfast love.
Morally and principally speaking, if God calls us to go somewhere, unlike Jonah, we should obey and go. Common sense alone leads us to that conclusion. Contrary to what many preachers and interpreters say, that is not the primary point of Jonah. The primary point of Jonah is not about how Jonah should have obeyed, it’s about how God continued his redemptive plan despite Jonah’s disobedience.
Think about this – God’s plan was one man.
God’s plan for Nineveh was one man, that was sufficient.
God’s plan for mankind was one man, that was sufficient.
God’s plan for your life is one man, He is sufficient.
In Acts 4 we read
11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Jonah gave his life to appease the wrath of God coming upon others. But…death did not hold him – three days and nights later he was free of imprisonment, he was alive and free.
Think – swap Jonah for Jesus and read that again…
Jesus gave his life to appease the wrath of God coming upon others. But…death did not hold him – three days and nights later he was free of imprisonment, he was alive and free.
Jesus is the better Jonah. The Ninevites needed Jonah, we need Jesus.