When You Really Mess Up!

Jonah 1:10-12

What do you do when you really mess up?
How do you make up for what you have done wrong?

Some just hide.
Others just try to forget the whole situation.

But what is the right response?
The correct response would be to deal honestly and sensitively with the problem.
But how can we do this?
What is our responsibility when sin has gained its mastery over us at any given moment?

For Jonah, the bombarding of the sailor's questions were being used by God to bring conviction
to this disobedient prophet.

When we start looking at verses 10-12, we see the renegade Jonah is in the witness chair.
His questioners are bearing down on him, and the questions are striking close to home.
This dramatic scene is taking place in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea.

The Judge of all the earth is revealing His righteous indignation as the sea became increasingly stormy.
The waves are tempestuous, and so are Jonah's inner feelings.

God's peace does not come to one who is rebelling.
That is exactly the lesson that Jonah needed to learn.

Only a surrendered life can experience the peace of God.

In verse 10 the sailors asked Jonah, "What is this that you have done?"
For Jonah this accusation must have penetrated like a stake driven into the ground.
Imagine yourself being in Jonah's situation.
"What's the problem with you?

That really hurts, and it comes from a group of unbelieving sailors.
Sometimes, it takes a question like that to really open our eyes to our own unbelief.
Don't you wonder what went through the minds of those men as they confronted Jonah with their final blow.
Had this God treated him unfairly?
Had he gotten tired of God?
Did he find that God was unworthy?

Jonah was crushed by the knockout punch.
But after Jonah's acknowledgment of his disobedience to the great God of Israel,
it was the sailors' turn to get knocked down.

The literal text of verse 10 says, "They feared a great fear."
Why?
It was not because the boat was getting swamped with water – it was because of the reality of God's presence.
Jonah had told the crew all about his life from God's presence, and now they have put the puzzle together
correctly and realized that something supernatural was happening.
So the men were afraid of the power and righteousness of God.

A tremendous amount of divine activity is coming into focus here in this scene – both in Jonah
and in the sailors themselves.
God was not only moving the waters, but He was also moving in their hearts.
It is this quality of fear that will lead to a converted heart.

So, what is the solution?

Now that the sailors knew the why of their predicament, the next task was to discover
the what of the solution.
So the man confront Jonah with their dilemma:
"What should we do to you that the sea may become calm for us?"
The verb used in verse 11 means "to be quiet or silent."
(See also Psalm 107:30 and Proverbs 26:20)
The sailors were longing for the calmness that they had once known and really needed.

In their confrontation the crew showed a certain respect toward the disobedient prophet
by asking him the solution to their problem.
Don't you notice the irony of this scene.

They might have been surmising, "So Jonah didn't want to share Yahweh's word of mercy
with the Ninevites, but can you now speak to save us
?"
Their question put the responsibility squarely upon Jonah.
What he had been running from, he must now face.
That time always comes!

God had brought Jonah to a fork in the road.
It was clearly an either/or situation.

Have you ever been forced into the position of having to answer a similar question:
"What are you going to do about this?"
That is no time for a week-kneed believer.
Action is demanded.
We must stop our praying, and begin doing.

This is exactly the admonition that James gives and James 1:22:
"But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves."
We do not need to travel too far from home in order to gain an eyeful of how human nature operates…

What was Jonah going to do about this situation?
Was he going to avoid it, hide from it, ignore it, or face it?

Jonah needed to learn that only a surrender life will experience the peace of God.

Their convincing questions had found their mark in the heart of Jonah.
Verse 12 is so rich: "And he said to them, 'Pick me up and throw me the sea.
Then the sea will become calm for you, for I know that on account of me
this great storm has come upon you
."

There are four things in this that we need to notice.
They are Jonah's sin – Jonah's surrender – Jonah's sacrifice – and Jonah's satisfaction.

Jonah's Sin

Jonah's rebellion had brought remorse to God.
Jonah recognized his sin: "I know that on account of me…"
Those are difficult words to say in any vocabulary.
In one sense it is perhaps the most difficult phrase that a person could ever utter.

There is no chance in the world for people like you and me to admit fault in such a drastic situation
unless the Lord is moving in our hearts.

Jonah said, "I know…"
The same word is used in verse 10 in reference to the sailors:
"For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord."

This is a discriminatory, discerning, personal type of knowing.
Jonah had time to consider his life, and now, he really knew that he had sinned.
He knew that he had really mess it up before God.

Jonah recognized his wrong, his selfishness, his disobedience, and his fear of men.
Not only did he properly evaluate the immediate predicament, but he was also becoming aware of the fact
that his continued sin affects others.
Like a spreading, cancerous growth, Jonah's simple flight from God had put these sailors
into the same boiling pot to suffer the same consequences.

No one "drowns" alone.
Paul talks about this in 2 Corinthians 5:5 were he says in effect,
"Friend, if you think you are causing me some problems, forget it!
You are giving the whole church something that is causing sorrow
."

The members of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ are to be so intimately related in fellowship
that "if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it." (1 Corinthians 12:26)

God has placed all of us into one body which is the church. (1 Corinthians 12:13)
That is why we hurt when others hurt.
That is why it is such a privilege to rejoice with one another when a family member is honored.
(See 1 Corinthians 12:26)

Perhaps, you are in the position right now that Jonah was in.
As a Christian, you are suffering under the crushing weight of your own sin,
and the power of God's conviction is drawing its verdict.
Others are suffering also – perhaps it is your family or the people with whom you work or a close friend.

So what should we do?

First, we must confess, then surrender.
Jonah gave us the example.

Jonah's Surrender

We cannot surrender until we see our own sin.
And that usually comes at the point of our defeat.
Jonah's surrender is seen in the form of repentance.
He was ready to change his mind about his own life and the direction that he had been pursuing.

Jonah's Sacrifice

There are three words that break through the charged atmosphere: "Pick me up."
Jonah had reached a decision.
He had become a picture of willing sacrifice to die in the place of others.
Jonah's resolution would meet God's requirement

Jonah's Satisfaction

"Then the sea will become calm for you." (Verse 12)
Jonah spelled out the results for the crew.
Not only would the turmoil in the tumult of the ways become silent,
but the very hand of God's disciplining wrath would also subside.
Then there would be peace without and peace within!

God would soon do His work.

Isaiah writes a touching word about this in Isaiah 53:10, 11:
"But the Lord was pleased to crush Him putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied;
by His knowledge the Righteous One My Servant, will justify the many,
as He will bear their iniquities
."

There is a divine satisfaction in the heart of God when we come to the point of willing surrender.
The sovereign control of our glorious Lord was manifested at Calvary.
"This Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God,
you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death
." (Acts 2:23)

The cross was not a mistake.
The very heart of God's program is a loving sacrifice.

Jonah anticipated a positive response to God's work which was peace.
He counted on the fact that God will work.
God will do the same for us today.

Only a surrendered life will experience the peace of God.

I Surrender All

"All to Jesus, I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
Take me, Jesus, take me now.

All to Jesus, I surrender;
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.

All to Jesus, I surrender;
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power;
Let Thy blessing fall on me.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Now I feel the sacred flame.
O the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory, to His Name!

Chorus:
I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all."


Sermon adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White