Jaws & Jonah

One of the most well-known lines from the film Jaws is this one – ‘You’re going to need a bigger boat’. It’s a great line about not having enough resources. But the book Jaws opens with another memorable line, it begins like this – The great fish moved silently through the dark waters. It’s a line full of suggestion, with images of peril and danger. And when I think about that it reminds me of the book of Jonah which could have started with that line. The great fish and its silent voyage through the dark waters, towards its appointment with a runaway prophet. Jonah is a book which is about many things, but not least it’s about prejudice. The prophet who dares to tell us his own story, in which he wants his enemies to perish, to be destroyed. He doesn’t want them to be forgiven, and we discover at the end of the book that this is the reason he ran away. He didn’t want to go to Nineveh because he knew that God would be compassionate and forgiving.

Jonah didn’t want God to be compassionate and forgiving towards those people, he hated and feared the Ninevites. He wanted them to be no more. Nuked. I guess prejudice is something we all wrestle with, one way or another, in big ways and small ways. We probably all draw our lines in the sand and see ourselves on one side and some other folk on the other side. But one of the great things about our life with Jesus is that we can bring anything and everything to him, and we can ask him for his help with our prejudice. We can ask him to open our eyes to see where were are hemmed in by prejudice and criticism, and we can ask for his help to see people as he sees them, and to see ourselves as he sees us. Because we’re all precious and valued and unique, and God can help us to have the kind of compassion that he shows in the book of Jonah.

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