RAP SHEET 10/8/23
Series: RESCUE Sermon: Cliffhanger
Scripture: Jonah 4
ICE BREAKER: What is your favorite movie or tv show that ends with a "cliffhanger"?
This week we wrapped up our RESCUE series and celebrated baptisms in our Sunday Services!
The book of Jonah concludes with the wayward prophet pouting over God's mercy to Nineveh. He is bitter that he did not get his way - Nineveh did not get destroyed as Jonah desired.
He is so distraught, he says that he wishes he could just die! Jonah selfishly wanted the people of Nineveh to feel God's wrath, EVEN THOUGH he himself had just been spared God's wrath when he disobeyed and ran from God!
Have you ever desired for someone else to feel God's judgment?
Are you ever tempted to rejoice over someone else's consequences?
God tries to engage Jonah in a conversation but the angry prophet refuses. Instead, he set up a bunker outside of the city and watched, hoping God may change his mind and torch the place.
God caused a plant to grow up behind Jonah and shade him from the harsh sun. Jonah LOVED the plant! The same way he had HATED God's mercy for Nineveh, he equally rejoiced over this small gesture. However, God then caused the plant to die. In response, Jonah exploded with anger!
God then pointed out that Jonah cared about a plant and yet did not allow God to care about the thousands of people of Nineveh. Then, out of nowhere, the story abruptly just ends.
Many have wondered why the Jonah narrative ends on a cliffhanger. This week we suggested it was to allow us to see ourselves in the story.
All of us act like Jonah from time to time. We run from God, we suffer unnecessarily, we hit rock bottom... We sometimes judge others harshly although we want mercy for our own sins... All of us have the capacity to find our own "PLANTS" that we prioritize over God's people. Jonah loved his plant so much that it stole his attention from God's plan!
The story of Jonah forces us to see ourself in the pouting prophet and ask:
What am I most concerned about in my life? What is God most concerned about in my life? And where do those things divulge from one another?!
ALL of us are capable of choosing PLANTS over PEOPLE. Your plant - the thing you rejoice over and worship and idolize may be money, or power, or sex, or physical appearance, or proving someone wrong, or SO many other things!
Jonah decided he would rather die than obey God.
This week, we celebrated baptism - a reminder that the call to follow Jesus is the call to DIE to our own Desires in order to embrace obedience to God!
HERE IS THIS WEEK'S APPLICATION QUESTION:
What is ONE WAY you still need to die to yourself in order to fully follow Jesus?
Spend some time praying for those who just got baptized! Ask God to guide them on this new journey of following Jesus.