‘Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea grew more and more tempestuous. He said to them, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.”’ (Jonah 1:11-12)
Once it was clear that Jonah’s behavior was the cause of the storm, the crew asked him for a solution. His answer was
remarkable: “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea”. The mariners were shocked by this proposal, and they tried all they could to find an alternative solution. But their efforts were in vain, and eventually they did hurl Jonah into the sea.
On the surface, Jonah’s words seem to be of ultimate self-sacrifice. He was prepared to die, in order that the crew survived. But if we take a closer look, we do not read anywhere that this was God’s will! Right from the beginning of the book, it was clear what God wanted. He had told His prophet to go to Nineveh and to preach there. But even now, Jonah did not want to obey his commission. He did not surrender to God. Instead, his proposal to be hurled overboard might be his ultimate attempt to flee from God’s presence …
Jonah had confessed he was running away from the Lord, but he did not change his behavior. If we confess our sins, we should also repent and “bear fruits in keeping with repentance”. Otherwise, our behavior shows that our confession was just empty words. We need a change of heart, which will show outwardly.
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