Limitless Compassion, "Jonah 1:11-16"
Jonah 1:10-11, “10 the men became extremely frightened and they said to him, “How could you do this?” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. 11 So they said to him, “What should we do to you that the sea may become calm for us?”—for the sea was becoming increasingly stormy.”
- In verses 10-11 the focus of the story pivots toward the sailors on the ship in the storm, and we need to remember the chaos of the storm.I f you look back to verse 4 we see the ship is falling apart in the storm. In verse 5 the sailors are afraid, throwing cargo overboard, and in verse 8 the sailors ask Jonah, “Why is this happening?”
- In verse 9, “Jonah says, ‘Because I am fleeing from the presence of the Lord.’” So that in verse 10 the sailors say, “How could you do this?” Do you see the progression?
Now, you need to know these sailors do not know the God of Scripture. They are worshipping rocks, clouds, statues, and animals, and all they have as a reference to the God of Scripture is Jonah’s profession of faith in verse 9, “I am Hebrew, I fear the God of heaven who made the sea and the land” and still these sailors know “fleeing from the presence of the Lord” is a bad idea.
Jonah 1:12, “12 He said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea. Then the sea will become calm for you, for I know that on account of me this great storm has come upon you.”
- Notice the contrast between Jonah and the sailors. You don’t see Jonah praying. You don’t see Jonah throwing cargo overboard. You don’t even see Jonah throwing himself into the sea.
- The sailors are running around scared in the midst of the storm that is breaking the ship apart and still Jonah is like, “Would you be so kind?”
- There are some scholars who say Jonah’s response in verse 12 is an act of sacrificial service, but it’s hard to see, because it doesn’t come across as Jonah taking a hit for the team and performing some heroic response.
- No, in fact if you fast forward to Jonah 4 we see Jonah not getting what he wants again, and in Jonah 4 Jonah’s response is, “O, Lord, please take my life, because death is better than life.”
- No, it seems more likely in verse 12 when Jonah says, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea” that Jonah is in a place of despair.
Jonah 1:13, “13 However, the men rowed desperately to return to land but they could not, for the sea was becoming even stormier against them.”
- Again, notice the sailors. Jonah is overcome with despair, and the sailors are “rowing desperately to return to land.”
- The phrase, “rowed desperately” literally means, “dug their oars into the waters” to get to land as fast as possible.
- The sailors hear Jonah say, “Throw me into the sea” and it’s like the sailor’s think, “Well, that’s not a good idea. There’s got to be a better way.”
Do you remember how we defined biblical compassion last Sunday? First there is initiative to go toward people. We see that in the sailors. Second, biblical compassion is marked by words. Sometimes our culture tries to talk about compassion as “sending positive thoughts” into the universe, and yet we see the sailors physically involved with their words and their lives. Third, biblical compassion is marked by sometimes having hard conversations. How easy it would have been for the sailors to hear Jonah, who hasn’t really done anything to be helpful, say, “Throw me into the sea” and yet the sailors are arguing with Jonah to find a better solution.
Jonah 1:14, “14 Then they called on the Lord and said, “We earnestly pray, O Lord, do not let us perish on account of this man’s life and do not put innocent blood on us; for You, O Lord, have done as You have pleased.”
- Just to be clear verse 14 seems like this would be the response of Jonah, but instead the sailors hear a reference to the God of Scripture in verse 9, “God of heaven who made sea and land” and in verse 14 the sailors are “earnestly praying to the Lord” and “calling on the name of the Lord.”
- It is difficult to know if the sailors have turned away from their pagan beliefs, and turned to the God of Scripture, but time after time after time we are seeing a contrast between Jonah and the sailors.
- It is Jonah who is called to extend biblical compassion, and yet it is the sailors who are going out of their way to extend biblical compassion toward Jonah.
Jonah 1:15, “15 So they picked up Jonah, threw him into the sea, and the sea stopped its raging.”
- In verse 15 the sailors see no other possibility. The sailors pick up Jonah into the sea, and it says “the sea stopped its raging.” The word “stopped” in the original language actually means “to be motionless or stop moving.” Can you imagine?
Jonah 1:16, “16 Then the men feared the Lord greatly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.”
- If you look at Jonah 1 as a whole we see verse 5 the sailors fearing the storm. In verse 10 the sailors feared fear, in verse 15 the seas are calmed, and in verse 16 the sailors are in awe of the Lord, offer up sacrifices to the Lord, and made vows of committing their lives to the Lord.
- If we are struggling to show biblical compassion toward others, or find ourselves feeling too busy to extend biblical compassion toward others, then you need to know it all comes back to the fear of the Lord.
The solution to extending biblical compassion toward others isn’t some self-help tip like tying a string on our finger or setting alarms on our phone that say, “care about others.” The solution to extending biblical compassion toward others all comes back to being in awe of the One who calms the raging of the seas.
You know there is another story of some people on a boat who are still learning about the One who calms the storms, and it is in Mark 4. Listen to the similarities.
Mark 4:35-41, “35 On that day, when evening came, He said to them, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. 37 And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up.
38 Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” 39 And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. 40 And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 They became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”
Everything we have seen in Jonah 1 that teaches us about the character of God who is full of biblical compassion and does everything to draw His people to Himself is revealed in Jesus. It is because Jesus is God.
Jesus is the glory of God revealed from heaven. Jesus is the creator of all things from the heights of the heavens, to the depths of the sea. It is Jesus who enters into the storms of humanity, understands the storms of humanity, and then willingly, unlike Jonah, throws Himself overboard onto the cross.
There’s no fish that comes to Jesus’ rescue, but instead Jesus sinks to the bottom of the abyss for our sin, and then conquers the death of the abyss in the resurrection, so that in Jesus there is no storm that can overcome us.
Do we forget? Yes. Do we overestimate how much we think we know? Yes. Do we even flee from His presence? Yes. But, Jesus has done everything possible to hold us in His grip and keep us for Himself.
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