By TJ Johnson
This weekend we begin a study in the book of Jonah.
This story often gets relegated to a simple children’s tale, “Jonah and the Whale”, which makes for a great cartoon (VeggieTales) or Sunday school lesson, but offers very little to rational adults.
But Jonah is not a story about a great whale (or fish or beast of the sea). The purpose of this fish, which only gets a few verses in the entire book, is to magnify the main character. And no, the main character is not the man found inside the fish. To be sure, the book bears Jonah’s name and shares his story, but he, like the fish, is meant to shine a light on the main character. Nor is the main character the city to whom Jonah was sent to preach repentance. Like the fish, like Jonah, they too magnify the main character of the book.
So, who is the book about?
The book begins with God:
Now the word of the Lord came…
The book ends with God:
Should I (the LORD) not pity…
This story is God’s story and reveals something spectacular about Him to us.
In each interaction, with Jonah, with the mariners, with the Ninevehites, we find that God is “a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”
It is a story of grace extended to us.
It is a story of grace extended through us.
And so we begin 2021 here, a year of receiving and extending grace.
May 2021 be a year of imperfect, reluctant prophets carrying the gospel, at great risk to our own lives, to people who do not deserve grace any more than we deserve grace, but to people whom God delights to show that grace.
This year, my prayer is that our vision of God is expanded by experiencing His presence, as we intentionally arise and go!