The Offense of Grace
Jonah 4:1-11

The Offense of Grace

Jonah 4:1-11
Big Idea:  God is radically gracious! We’re called to share His heart and pursuit


Good morning. This is our 5th and final week over the book of Jonah. We’ll be going into 1 John next week. In going through Jonah we said there were 3 main reasons: 1.) We wanted to highlight the difference between religion and the gospel. Religion is man’s way of trying to reach to God. Our work, our performance, our attempt to gain His favor and love. The Gospel is about God’s pursuit of humanity by grace through Jesus Christ. Jonah shows us an example of a religious heart that is so focused on his deeds and performance that he fails to comprehend the true grace of God. 2.) We want to look at Jonah because it gives us clear descriptions of sin and grace. Sin is us running from God in rebellion. Grace is God’s pursuit of us in love. We see this over and over in the book of Jonah and in our lives. Chapter 1 God calls Jonah, Jonah runs the opposite way in rebellion. God pursues Jonah through disciplining him. Chapter 2 Jonah kind of repents but God shows grace and spits him up. Chapter 3 God pursues Nineveh, who is in ignorant rebellion, through calling them to repent. Chapter 4- Jonah has a tantrum and God pursues His heart through patiently teaching him. This theme of sin as running from God and grace as God’s loving pursuit is a theme in all of our lives. 3.) God’s love for a broke and rebellious city. Our theme that God has brought us to this year of B.L.E.S.S. only works if we share God’s heart for our neighbors, community, and city. God loves His enemies and those who are sinfully ignorant of Him. My hope and prayer has been for God to help us see and share His heart for St. Pete, this great city.

We’re going to read Jonah 3:10-4:11

Jonah 4:1-11

3:10-When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.

4 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. 2 And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. 3 Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” 4 And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?”
5 Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city. 6 Now the Lord God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort.[c]So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. 7 But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered.8 When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” 9 But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” 10 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. 11 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?”

Big Idea:
God is radically gracious! We’re called to share His heart and pursuit

Grace offends our sense of justice, Grace reveals our sinful hypocrisy, and Grace displays God’s heart of compassion.

Grace offends our sense of justice

Grace is giving someone what they don’t deserve. Grace can be extremely offensive. Especially because people don’t deserve it! Remember that Religion focuses upon performance and therefore what we deserve. If I agree to work for a set number of hours for a specified amount that I’ve earned and am due that amount. I have rights! Grace doesn’t work like that.  Grace is given in lack of any performance, right, or wage. It is a gift. Now, that’s fine in theory, but our problem arises when we’re not the one deciding when or to whom grace is given. When the gift of grace is given by God to whom He pleases when He wants, we begin to have problems. Why? His will is different than ours. He has a knack for not seeing things our way, but His way. This is exactly what happens to Jonah in chapter 4. Jonah hates Nineveh. Hates them. He wishes for their destruction. He has good reason to hate them too. Nineveh was horrendously evil. Superpower of the world, they did unspeakable terrors to Israel. Jonah wants justice! He wants them to answer for their crimes. He laments that the evil are prospering and seemingly getting away with their evil. We hate the same thing! We hate seeing nations, dictators, regimes that are perpetrating evil continue to exist. God, just wipe them out. Just destroy them. This is why when God calls Jonah to go to Nineveh to declare their evil, he runs. He doesn’t run because he’s scared. He runs because he’s angry. He hates Nineveh, and God wants to show grace to them. No. Absolutely NOT. You see, God’s grace is offending Jonah’s self-righteousness, his self-absorption. Jonah’s sinful expectations are being shattered and his response is what you see from a 2 year old. He pouts, he throws a tantrum, he has massive emotional swings. He’s exceedingly disappointed and angry enough to die. How do you respond when God chooses to show grace to someone who’s hurt and wounded you? In your marriage, are you playing tic for tac? If she does something to irritate or hurt you do you respond in self-righteous anger or in grace? How do you respond when someone gets the position you’ve been hoping for? Has the kind of financial success that you’ve dreamed of? It’s easy for us to be angry with God about His sovereign decision to bestow grace upon whom He pleases. Why? Sin at it’s heart is a longing to push God off His throne and take His place. This is why Jonah is so angry, because His will to play God and extend judgment and grant grace to whom he wants has been thwarted. Grace is offensive because we want to be God and God’s grace reveals we aren’t!

I remember several years ago sitting down with someone who wasn’t a Christian and discussing the gospel, good news, of Jesus with them. As we talked about sin, rebelling against God, it’s consequence death, and God’s provision for all those who would turn from sin and trust Him, Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. This person understood the justice aspect of it. What shocked and seemed to offend them was God’s grace. How could God just forgive people on their death beds if they lived a life of evil? How could he not judge and be just against them? You’re telling me a murderer you repents at his last hour will receive grace but someone who has seemingly done good, hasn’t murdered, will be separated for all eternity? God’s grace is offensive! He is so inclusive, that any person anywhere that truly turns from their sin and calls upon His name can experience His grace and love. Yet, he is exclusive, and only those who turn from sin and call upon His name will be forgiven. God’s grace offends us, but that’s a good thing! How else will we be changed to be like Him?

Grace reveals our sinful hypocrisy

Grace doesn’t simply offend, but it also reveals. Like a surgeon, God uses grace to cut in order to reveal the problem. God has been pursuing Nineveh all while also pursuing His prophet’s heart. God does this through a parable or illustration. Jonah is pouting outside of the city in the blazing heart, waiting and hoping that Nineveh will mess things up and God will destroy them. He builds a booth to cover and protect himself from the shade. Obviously, the booth doesn’t work completely, for God appoints a plant to grow up and bring comfort and shade to Jonah. This act of grace, to provide shade, comfort, and relief for Jonah doesn’t go unnoticed. Jonah is exceedingly glad because of the plant. Jonah loves God’s grace when it includes him and his comfort. Lest we look with judging eyes upon Jonah, go a couple days without AC here in the Florida heat. I just had my AC go out and got to experience the humidity and heat afresh. It’s no fun. My AC is back on and working in my car. Praise God for His grace and for this comfort. I was exceedingly glad when that AC turned back on. It’s not wrong for Jonah to be thankful for God’s gift of grace. The irony comes when God takes away the plant and Jonah goes into another tantrum. He gets angry and that anger progresses to suicidal thoughts. God pulls back the curtain and reveals the hypocrisy and sin in Jonah. He’s thankful for God’s grace and his own temporary comfort and when it’s taken away he’s emotionally moved. Yet, when it comes to God’s grace towards Nineveh he’s angry and wants them to get justice. God’s grace reveals his self-absorption, his hypocritical stance. I deserve grace, they don’t. My comfort is more important than their deliverance from destruction. This is God’s grace to reveal Jonah’s heart to heal it. Jonah would have never seen this hypocrisy in his heart and life had God not called him to Nineveh. God called Jonah to engage in His mission to reach Nineveh and through the mission God engaged Jonah. Oh, how true this is in our lives. Often we don’t see the hypocrisy in our lives because we’re not engaged in God’s mission. It’s as we draw near to God that he draws near to us. In this process we begin to actually see our own brokenness and hypocrisy. It’s a hard thing, but a necessary one. If we don’t ever see our hypocrisy we will never see our need for Christ. God calls us to make disciples, yet we like Jonah run away, through entertainment, through busyness, through work, through obligations…. We justify our running away from God’s call and mission with all kinds of excuses. My prayer for us is that God would wreck us like he wrecked Jonah. God would send a fish to swallow us in our running from His mission. It’s when we begin to engage in the mission of God to proclaim the gospel and make disciples that God starts truly working in and shaping us. Our brokenness and hypocrisy is revealed and this keeps us dependent and close to the Lord, realizing it’s by His power and strength we actually DO the mission. Our hypocrisy is revealed when we are excited and thankful for God’s gift in a new vehicle so we can keep our family safe, but we show no concern for the eternal safety of our neighbors. When we’re grateful for God’s gift of grace to give us an increase in income, yet our hearts our unmoved by our co-workers who need the true wealth of being with Christ. When we’re thankful for our salvation but sense no urgency or compassion towards those who don’t know the Lord. We are Jonah. As we engage in God’s mission, his grace offends us and reveals our sin, which causes us to abide closer, so we may share His heart.

Grace displays God’s heart of compassion

God’s grace offends us and our sense of justice, our desire to be God. God’s grace reveals our hypocrisy in that we want grace for ourselves but not for others. Finally we see that grace displays God’s heart of compassion. We see it right here. Jonah says, “you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.” We also see through God’s real life parable to Jonah, he is teaching Jonah to have pity or compassion.  He says, “10 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. 11 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?” God has a heart of such great grace and compassion. He has a heart of compassion for rebellious and runaway cities like Nineveh, like St. Petersburg. He has a heart for rebellious, self-righteous, racist, religious prophets like Jonah. God is radically inclusive! He gives Jonah grace through his persistent pursuit of his heart. He gives Nineveh grace by not destroying them for their wickedness when they repent. It’s this grace and compassion that are most transformative in our lives. It’s the kindness of God that leads us to repentance. God is gracious with you, in not destroying you for you sin, but providing a way of escape through faith in Jesus. How would sharing God’s heart of grace change your life? How would it redefine your relationships? How would it begin to bring healing and restoration to your family, workplace, neighborhood?

October 2nd 2006- Charles Roberts-Angry at God for daughter’s passing (20min alive)-2 of his own sons, bound 10 girls and shot them (5 died, and 5 wounded), killed himself. Victims of the shooting went by Charles parents house to get them to stay rather than move. Parents of two girls who were killed went to Charles funeral and were first to great the parents of Charles. One of the girls who was seriously wounded is helped and cared for by Charles mom now, the Amish parents allow Charles mom into their home…..What can’t we forgive and show grace to?

Have you received God’s free gift of grace to you? That you willingly gave up His son so you might experience freedom!
Who is God calling you to show grace to? To give something that they don’t deserve?
What does it mean to care and be concerned for the salvation of those around us?