Dr. Claire Peterson – “A Heart for the Lost”

March 12, 2014

“Then the Lord said, ‘You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labour and which you did not grow; it came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?’” – Jonah 4:10-11

The book of Jonah serves as both a welcome assurance of God’s willingness to forgive and a sober reminder of the callousness of the human heart.  On the one hand, the people of Ninevah heed God’s warning (spoken through Jonah), turn from their ways, and the Lord has compassion on them.  On the other hand, Jonah, livid at God’s forgiving the Ninevites of their crimes, departs to sulk and die. 

In a striking reversal of all expectations, Jonah, the prophet is the lost, and the Ninevites, Assyrians, are the found.  In today’s scripture, we see God reaching out to a stubborn, callous Jonah.  Despite Jonah’s repeated rebellions and his stated determination to die, God continues to pursue: the goal is not mere nominal acceptance of the authority of the Lord, but a recognition of the shallowness of Jonah’s other concerns and a love for a people God loves.  


- Dr. Claire Peterson, Assistant Professor of Christian Studies & Philosophy

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