And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. Then they said to him, “Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” And he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.
Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea grew more and more tempestuous. He said to them, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.” Nevertheless, the men rowed hard to get back to dry land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them. Therefore they called out to the Lord, “O Lord, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you.” So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows. Jonah 1:7-16 ESV
This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. I Timothy 2:3-6 ESV
Vince Coleman was a railway dispatcher in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1917. A railway dispatcher in those days used the telegraph to send messages to help route trains through the busy stations. His station was near a harbor during World War I, and when he went to work one morning he heard a crash and saw black smoke pouring into the sky. One of the ships in the harbor that held a lot of ammunition had caught fire, and a sailor was sent to shore to warn everyone that the ship was about to explode. Vince Coleman could have run away, but he stayed at his post and sent this message along the line: “Hold up the train. Ammunition ship afire in harbor making for Pier 6 and will explode. Guess this will be my last message. Good-bye boys.“ His message might have saved Passenger Train #10 and 300 people on board that had been heading into the station, and it certainly alerted the railway lines about the terrible explosion, and a lot of relief was quickly sent in for the many people who were injured in the explosion. Vince Coleman died because he sent that last message, but his death saved many other lives.
Jonah knew what the cause of the storm was, and he knew the way it could be stopped. He told the sailors on his ship to throw him into the sea, and then the storm would stop and their lives would be saved. The sailors didn’t want to do that. They used their oars to row as hard as they could, but the storm was too strong and they couldn’t get to shore. They finally threw Jonah in while asking God not to hold it against them, and as soon as they did, the storm stopped. This made them believe and trust in the true God. Jonah was willing to give his life because he knew he was guilty, and the sailors were innocent. He wanted to die so that they could live, but he probably didn’t realize that they not only saved their lives, but found life with the true God as well.
Jesus also gave his life so that we could live, but there’s a big difference. Jonah was guilty and the sailors were innocent, but in our case it was Jesus who was innocent and we who were guilty. But Jesus gave his life for us, not because we deserved it, but because he loves us. He gave his life so that we could have life with God forever. But the good news is that Jesus didn’t stay dead, but instead he rose from the dead and is alive forever. Our life with Jesus will never end.
Dear Jesus, thank you for giving your life so that we could be saved and live with you forever. Amen.