Our Old Testament reading is Jonah 3:1-5.
The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: “Get up! Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach the message that I tell you.” Jonah got up and went to Nineveh according to the Lord’s command. Now Nineveh was an extremely great city, a three-day walk. Jonah set out on the first day of his walk in the city and proclaimed, “In forty days Nineveh will be demolished!” Then the people of Nineveh believed God. They proclaimed a fast and dressed in sackcloth—from the greatest of them to the least.
When we hear “Jonah” we often remember the story and add “and the whale”. Yes, God taught Jonah through that experience but there is much more to the story. It is a lesson of repentance and obedience.
God chose Jonah to go warn the city of Nineveh that they were not doing His will. Jonah initially refused and ran from God, but after his whale experience he repented and went. There he faithfully delivered God’s word and they also repented of their wrongdoing. Jonah was angered by this, expecting God would destroy the city of sinners.
This is a lesson about punishment and double standards. Jonah disobeyed, repented and was forgiven, yet he was unwilling to accept that the people of Nineveh had done the same thing. We often don’t merely want justice, we want to see others “get what’s coming to them”. God shows us that we have all fallen and as He forgives us, we must forgive each other.
Loving Lord, it is hard for us to let go of wrongs we have suffered and forgive those who hurt us. Let us see that Your mercy extends to all Your children in every circumstance and we must forgive them as well. Amen.