PENDING EXECUTION. : Commentary from the Book of Jonah (1)

PENDING EXECUTION. : Commentary from the Book of Jonah (1) April 26, 2024

 

Pending Execution: Commentary on The Book of Jonah (David Hosier and Jeff Hood / 1 of 4)

 

 

David Hosier is scheduled to be executed on June 11, 2024.

 

The Rev. Dr. Jeff Hood is Hosier’s spiritual advisor.

 

This is a commentary on The Book of Jonah they’re constructing together.

 

Jonah 1.

 

God’s word often comes to us in iterations we don’t expect.  Jonah was told to go to Nineveh, a place where he would have never thought God was telling him to go.  “Why would I go to Nineveh?!?!?”  Sometimes God directs us to spaces and places that leave us shocked.  Our shock does not delegitimize what God says.  Sometimes the love and grace of God is shocking.  The people that Jonah considered to be amongst the worst on earth, God was determined to save.  Why do we get in the way of the grace business?  We don’t understand the vastness of love.  God does not hate anybody.  God is desperately trying to turn all to love.

 

Jonah knew that God was going to forgive the Ninevites.  That’s why Jonah was so mad.  Jonah knew what was coming.  We forget that we’re called to love our enemies.  We forget that we are taught to pray for those who persecute us.  We forget.  God refused to forget the Ninevites.  God refuses to forget us.

 

Would any of us ever want to be forgotten or ignored?  What if Jonah was the one to bring the good news of love and salvation to us?

 

Jonah ran to a ship going in the opposite direction.  How often do we try to run from God?  How often do we choose to ignore what God is telling us?  How often do we think that we can hide?  Love is going to catch you.  Love is going to find you.  Love is going to make you whole.  God is love.  That is who our God is.  God is always going to love the hell out of you.  That is who God is.  God’s love is not small.  God’s love is enormous.

 

The primary mistake that Jonah makes is that he fails to make room in his heart for the infinite possibilities of God’s love.  Who can comprehend it?  We can’t.  We just have to make room for the possibilities.  God loves us.  We matter.  We are all God’s favorite.  We are infinitely valuable because God’s love is infinite.

 

Jonah pays the fare.  What a strange addition to the story.  Jonah didn’t just run away from God.  He paid to do so.  In our society of excess, it is so common for people to spend their money running from God.  We buy when we need to give.  We want new when old is enough.  We invest in all the wrong things.  We pay money to run from God.  We pay the fare because we think we know better than God.  We pay the fare to run from our responsibilities to love.

 

The storm began to rage.  Everybody on the ship was terrified.  People start shouting to whatever God they can think of.  When things get tough, we cling to whatever we can get our hands on.  Sometimes we grasp wrongly.  Then again, it seems that God always seems to honor our reaching.  Love always reaches back.

 

Jonah is asleep.  How often when the storm rages are we asleep?  The entire ship needed help.  The entire world needs help.  Yet, we are asleep.  There is an execution coming.  There is a horrific moral moment coming.  How can you sleep?  Unfortunately, most of the time people don’t care if it doesn’t directly touch them.

 

The folks on the ship finally realize that Jonah is the reason for all the chaos.  Of course, they first wanted to escape any collective responsibility.  It’s easy to blame the executioner.  It’s harder to blame the entire State of Missouri that is about to carry the execution out.  Too often, we blame the individual when the collective is responsible.  The other people on the ship are not sinless.

 

Of course, they threw Jonah overboard.  But it’s important to remember that Jonah asked for it.  At this point, it becomes apparent that Jonah is suicidal.  He has had a complete mental collapse.  The other folks on the ship simply just did what Jonah asked them to.  He wants to destroy himself.

 

Is it ever right to sacrifice the one to save the whole?

 

God saves Jonah in the strangest way possible.  Jonah is quickly swallowed by a huge fish.  Maybe a whale?  In a matter of weeks, David is scheduled to be executed.  It’s important to clarify that we believe a fish is coming.  We don’t know whether that will mean that David will be saved by the State or that David will be saved b being caught by God, but we do know that a fish is coming.

 

When the other guys throw Jonah overboard, see him get eaten by a fish/whale and see that the sea has grown completely calm, they all turn their hearts to God…they turn their hearts to love.  Why does it take such drama for us to do the right thing?  It seems that some things are obvious.  For example, it’s always a bad idea to kill people.

 

Even amid the hardest times, we have to have faith that God has a fish…God is going to make a way.  Regardless of what the next couple of weeks hold, God is going to make a way.  Though an execution is coming, God is going to make a way.

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