Jonah was a troubled soul.
He puts me in awe when I think of his stubbornness and his self-pity.
Have you ever been bothered by a testimony of someone from the Bible?
Jonah was extremely selfish.
There is one portion of his story that especially bothers me every time I read it.
It is found in chapter one.
Just in case the story isn’t familiar, Jonah was a man running from God.
God had told him to do a job, Jonah didn’t want to do it so he got on a ship and sailed away.
God was not pleased with this disobedience.
While Jonah slept in the ship, the Lord caused a terrifying storm that scripture says could have
broken the ship with its violence.
The men on the ship cried to their gods, and cast everything off the ship that could be tossed.
The shipmaster woke Jonah.
After a quick discussion and some casting of lots, it was revealed plainly by Jonah that he was the
reason for the wrath of the sea, and the wrath of his God.
Please take a moment to read the following verses from Jonah’s story.
And he said unto them, Take me up,
and cast me forth into the sea; so shall
the sea be calm unto you: for I know
that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.
Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to
the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought,
and was tempestuous against them.
Wherefore they cried unto the Lord, and said,
We beseech the, O Lord, we beseech thee, let us
not perish for this man’s life, and lay not upon us
innocent blood: for thou, O Lord, hast done as it pleased thee.
So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea:
and the sea ceased from her raging.
Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered
a sacrifice unto the Lord, and made vows.
What bothers me so much about this account every time I read it?
1) Jonah put the weight and responsibility of the consequences of HIS sin onto these men.
2) Jonah abused his position of spiritual leadership and power, causing great harm to his fellow shipmates.
Jonah’s sin put these men in a very difficult dilemma.
It was Jonah‘s sin that caused their lives and his own to be in peril.
When Jonah first said they had to throw him over in order for the storm to cease,
they continued to try to row to land.
They didn’t want to throw him over.
Without heavenly intervention, no one could survive the tempestuous sea. The men knew this.
But Jonah continued in his selfishness.
Jonah could have jumped out of the ship on his own.
That would have been the right thing to do.
But instead Jonah told the men to do it. To throw him off the ship.
Jonah was putting the weight and responsibility of his sin on these men.
He manipulated them, and he abused his spiritual power by making these men
carry out the consequence of HIS sin.
To clarify, perhaps it is not accurate to say Jonah made them throw him over,
but it does seem clear to have been Jonah’s intention.
What is clear is that he took no action to sacrifice himself for the safety of these men.
He took no action to appease the anger of His God.
He should have taken responsibility and jumped into the sea by himself, leaving these
men innocent of attempted murder.
Instead, Jonah was selfish and willing to scar these men for life by having them
throw him alive into the sea.
So how did Jonah put the weight and responsibility of HIS sin onto these men?
How did Jonah abuse his position of spiritual leadership?
Jonah didn’t take ownership of his sin.
Instead, he made someone else carry the weight.
Whatever Jonah was going through that caused his fear and disobedience,
it blinded him to others’ suffering.
He only saw his need.
His shipmates had to live with the guilt of throwing him over.
They probably thought they murdered Jonah.
Jonah’s sin may have impacted their lives for the rest of their days.
Because I have my own blindness to deal with, I have asked the Lord for the past couple years to show me where I am behaving as Jonah and to help me not harm anyone in the same way.
Fellow servants, we can easily be like Jonah.
We do the same thing if we blame other people for our anger.
We do the same thing if we blame other people for our bitterness.
When we let our children, or our teenagers, or our employees, or our church members think that our sin is their fault then we are being selfish and manipulative just like Jonah.
Deep hurt, confusion and hypocrisy come from this kind of abuse.
It is a lack of true, godly love when we hurt people this way.
Jonah was completely thoughtless of how his sin was affecting others.
He put the burden to carry out the consequence of his sin on these innocent men.
One of the best ways I have found healing in my relationships with my children is by saying I’m sorry.
Those words bring healing.
They bring healing because the wrong doing is acknowledged, not swept under the rug.
They bring healing because then the child isn’t confused thinking it is their fault.
It brings healing because it shows them they don’t need to bear the weight of your sin.
When an authority figure, like us parents, or an employer, or a pastor, or a teacher do something
or behave in a way that contradicts goodness, kindness, and right it causes confusion.
Jonah should never have just done nothing. Jonah should never have expected his shipmates to bear the consequence of HIS sin by throwing him overboard. Those men probably carried guilt the rest of their lives.
Jonah should have taken action and taken responsibility for his sin. Jonah should have jumped.
Imagine now, instead of shipmates bearing Jonah’s sin, it is a child that has grown up their entire life believing our anger is their fault.
There are many examples that can fit here. Ask God to show you if you are behaving like Jonah, harming the innocent as a scapegoat for your sin.
We cannot fix our past mistakes but we can do everything in our power to begin healing the scars and preventing future ones.
Saying “I’m sorry” is a good place to start.
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