I've been reading Jonah lately.
I love that book. It's organized like a palindrome, and I love palindromes. And Jonah is just so contrary and selfish and emotional ... kind of like a certain person I see in the mirror everyday. I get Jonah. He's a familiar kind of exasperating for me.
Anyway, there's this part near the end where Jonah is sulking and ranting at God,
'And he prayed to the Lord and said, "O Lord , is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster."' (Jonah ch.4 v. 2)
Yes, you read that right. He's mad at God because God is gracious and merciful.
He didn't want to proclaim something that wouldn't happen. He didn't want to risk being misnamed a false prophet. He was worried about his reputation, and not at all concerned with the lives that would be lost - or saved, by repentance.
He only went to Nineveh under duress (like, spat up by a huge fish sort of duress).
He had been angry that God sent him to preach repentance to Nineveh because he knew God would relent if the Ninevites repented ... and here he was, correct and sour and wishing God had wiped out the Ninevites after all.
Jesus was the opposite.
God didn't have to kidnap him and make him come to us. Jesus didn't think about His reputation or comfort. He laid down His rights to flawless glory and embraced broken humanity in the flesh.
And God sent Jesus for the same reason He sent Jonah -
Yep. Kerneled right there in the stormy rant of the sulky prophet, we have foreshadowing of Christmas grace - You are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster -
Joy to the world, friends, He is :).