Pages Navigation Menu

Concerning the grumbling of the Pharisees and a look at Jonah

Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” Luke 15:1-2

For some reason, this scene brings to mind some thoughts I had when reading the book of Jonah recently.

You see, it hit me—Jesus closely related to the prophet Jonah. Of course, Jesus knew He would be buried for three days in the tomb just as Jonah experienced three days in the belly of that humongous fish (see Matthew 12:40). The Lord thought about that eventuality—probably often—and took comfort that as Jonah was vomited out of the fish after three days, He, too, would be blasted back to life by the power of God. I believe He kept His thoughts on Jonah’s deliverance as a faith-builder.

However, Jesus and Jonah had another similarity. Both were called to preach to a volatile, rebellious people. Both knew the chances of rejection were huge and could very likely end in a violent death. Jesus, though, knew that undergoing this kind of tortuous death wasn’t a mere probability; it was fact.

Both men also understood that their obedience could lead to widespread, history-changing repentance and reconciliation to God. Jesus delighted in that end; Jonah, on the other hand, recoiled from it.

Fast-forward to Jesus’ day. Although the educated and religious folk of His time probably scoffed (as I have in the past) at Jonah’s rank disgust at the thought of the repentance and reformation of his foes in disregard to God’s plan, here they had a Man before them who unashamedly preached repentance and life transformation to the non-religious around them.

Did they say to themselves, “Now, here’s a Man—unlike Jonah—who willingly embraces sinners and the dregs of society, and by His preaching, their entire lives are miraculously changed and made whole!”?

No, they grumbled. They had no interest in “sinners”; they had no interest in the transformational intersection of a human with his/her Maker. They could care less about the secret fears, sorrows, or pains of those with whom they were spiritually charged. They were Jonah—yet a Jonah who never turned to offer repentance and hope of God’s forgiveness.

Jesus, like Jonah, preached repentance as the doorway to the kingdom of heaven. He didn’t sugar-coat His message and made no exceptions concerning sin; but He preached repentance out of a heart of love and compassion for those stuck in the quagmire of their lives. And their lives, deemed valuable to this Shepherd, were transformed as they gave Him their hearts.

May you and I see our lives and those around us with the eyes of Jesus, not Jonah—and certainly not with the eyes of the “learned” religious ones of Jesus’ day.


© 2019, Dorothy Frick