The ungrateful servant = Jonah

By Dave Henning / August 27, 2023

“Jonah is like the ungrateful servant who, having been forgiven, refuses to forgive others (Matthew 18:21-35).  Despite all this, God is patient with him.  Jonah returns to the same angry opposition to God he had at the outset.  This time, however, God . . . instead begins to counsel Jonah gently. . . .  This is both a lesson in humility and a consolation.”- Timothy Keller

“And the LORD said, ‘Is it good for you to burn with such anger?’  Jonah then left the city and sat down just east of it and made a shelter for himself there.  He sat under it in the shade, waiting to see what would happen to the city.”- Jonah 4:4-5

In Chapter 9 (“The Character of Compassion”) of The Prodigal Prophet, Timothy Keller notes that God comes to Jonah one more time.  This time God begins to reason with the depressed, spiritually blind prophet.  Because Jonah still retains a great deal of self-righteousness.

As a result, Jonah makes himself a temporary shelter near Nineveh.  And even though God declared a stay of execution, Jonah wanted to hang around.  He still held on to the hoe that God wouldn’t spare the city for a long period of time.

Yet, God makes Jonah’s stay more comfortable.  Thus, God directs a shade plant (gigayon) to grow up.  In addition, commentators identify this plant as the Ricinus or castor oil plant.  This plant grows very quickly.  And its broad leaves provide shade.

Furthermore, Pastor Keller believes, self-pity may have played a role in Jonah’s joy over the plant.  That ‘finally something is going right for me’ feeling.  Therefore, when God sends a worm to gnaw and whither the plant, Jonah displays even more shock and anger.  Above all, this happens just as a season of brutally hot, windy weather begins.

However, all this serves as preparation for God’s next assault on Jonah’s self-righteousness.  So, in the next blog Pastor Keller contrasts what the ancient prophets spoke of — “the love of benevolence” and “the love of detachment.”

Today’s question: Have you ever acted like the ungrateful servant?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The language of attachment”

About the author

Dave Henning

Leave a comment:

Call Now Button