‘And the LORD said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”’ (Jonah 4:10-11)
The book of Jonah ends with a question. God asked Jonah whether He should not pity thousands of people who hardly knew what they were doing (probably He meant Nineveh’s young children), when Jonah was preoccupied by a plant. We don’t know what Jonah’s answer was. We don’t know whether he repented from his heartless attitude and from his rebellion against God.
A more important question is: what would our own answer be? Do we accept that God acts according to His perfect will, even if that does not fit in our theological framework? Do we rejoice in His grace for sinners, even if those sinners are our worst enemies? Do we praise Him for His endless love, and are we ready to share this hopeful message with people outside our own social group?
Sometimes we might be like Jonah. We too might be loveless and rebellious. It is shocking and humiliating to discover these emotions in our own hearts. But the story of Jonah also gives hope. It shows that God loves rebellious sinners like Jonah and the Ninevites. He loves them so much that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
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