The Lord showed Jonah what free grace was all about. Despite Jonah’s rebellion, He saved Jonah through the great fish; He called Jonah a second time; He used Jonah to bring repentance to an entire city of Gentiles; He comforted Jonah from the desert heat with a leafy plant, even as he complained against God. What prodigal mercy! Yet, although the plant he gave Jonah was a free gift, Jonah presumed that God owed it to him – as he felt wronged when God took it away. The disappearing plant that God destroyed should have shown Jonah that it was His to give in the first place; that if grace is grace, it is undeserved, whether that grace be given to Nineveh or Israel, or himself; and that he had no right to object if God should have mercy on whom He wills!
Like Jonah we quarrel with God when we adore our “vines” more than His grace – when our home projects, our pets, and gardens take priority over sharing the gospel with our fellow men. God told us to “proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation.” Are we inwardly angry that God should impose such a burden on us? If God is concerned, how can we be so unconcerned?
We, like Jonah, stand in need of God’s prodigal mercy to be obedient to His commands, preach the Gospel, and live to the praise of His glorious grace!