April 19, 2013
READ: Jonah 1:1-17
Who are you? What is your line of work? (v.8).
When the Titanic sank on 15 April 1912, evangelist John Harper was among the 1,522 people who died. After putting his 6 year old daughter on a lifeboat, John ran throughout the ship and warned others about the eternal destiny of their souls. When he finally had to jump into the icy water, he clung to a piece of wreckage and asked another man, “Are you saved?” When the man answered, “No,” John said to him, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). This man was the last convert of John Harper.
The ship that was carrying Jonah was in danger of breaking up. The sailors were desperately fearful. But Jonah seemed to be totally unconcerned about whether they lived or died. He had refused to preach the gospel to the Assyrians. That was why he was on this ship. He had rejected his responsibility as an evangelist.
Realising that Jonah was responsible for putting the entire crew at risk, the sailors asked him a poignant question: “Who are you? What is your line of work?” (1:8). Instead of confessing his sin and making it right, Jonah unashamedly told them that “he was running away from the Lord.” The sailors then asked another insightful question: “Why did you do it?” (v.10).
Here’s why: Jonah didn’t seem to be overly concerned about the eternal destiny of these men (Jonah 4:10-11).
In hiding his identity and neglecting his responsibility as an evangelist, Jonah denied these men the opportunity to hear the good news. Ironically it was the unbelieving ship captain who reminded Jonah that his God could save them (v.6). When Jonah was forced into the raging sea, he went alone. But when John Harper was forced to jump into the icy water, he brought another person into eternal life.
“Who are you?” (v.8). Are you a Jonah or a John Harper? —K.T. Sim
› 1 Kings 18:16-46
Read 2 Kings 7:3-11 and Luke 2:10-18 to see two different types of good news. What did the lepers and shepherds do with the good news they received?
Why would you agree or disagree that it’s much easier to be a Jonah than a John Harper? How can you be better prepared to share your faith?