When you hear the name Jonah, what usually goes through your head? It is the big fish (or whale for you non-biology majors)? That is what I usually think about (that and the Veggie Tales song). Oddly enough, the story is much more than that. Surprise!
Seriously, though in his book Surprised by Grace: God’s Relentless Pursuit of Rebels, Tullian Tchividjian [chuh-vi-gin] brings out the beauty of the gospel through the life and message of Jonah to the evil city of Nineveh. In very accessible prose, Pastor Tullian talks about how Jonah himself is the message about what the gospel means, and how offensive it can be to see God’s mercy at work in the lives of people who seem to deserve far less.
Ironically, seen through the lens of the gospel, Jonah finds himself in just as much need of God’s grace and salvation as the people in Nineveh and those who manned the boat to take him in the other direction. And as we take this journey with the prophet, we find ourselves peering through those same eyes of cellphone and find our deep need staring back at us.
Surprised by Grace is a challenging reminder that we are all in the same boat and in the same city, both in desparate need of a loving, compassionate, merciful, and forgiving God. All the glory to him because he saw our need, showed up in the flesh, and did what we could not do on our behalf.