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Dec 03, 2017

Enter into the Wideness of God’s Mercy

Enter into the Wideness of God’s Mercy

Passage: Jonah 1

Speaker: Patrick Lafferty

Series: Enter In: An Advent Series in Jonah

“Echo chambers,” “safe spaces,” “thought silos”: they speak of a common impulse to retreat into communities of agreement as a refuge in a polarized and hostile culture. But to inhabit those communities is at the same time to think of other perspectives as Other with a capital O, which cultivates a habit of either steering clear or casting stones—never entering into their world to offer respect or to bring our best gifts. Jonah is an ancient story that reflects that modern phenomenon. It’s a story we need to hear if only to see ourselves—but moreover to grapple with the One who came later, who entered into a place of polarization and hostility to bring His best gifts, and whose birth we remember this Advent.

Order of Worship

Call To Worship: Isaiah 2:2-5 (ESV)
Reading: Old Testament, Jeremiah 29:5-7
Reading: New Testament, John 1:9-13
Corporate Confession of Sin: Matthew 5:43-45
Assurance of Pardon: Hebrews 4:14-16
Central Text: Jonah 1
Sermon Title: Enter into the Wideness of God’s Mercy
Benediction: Lamentations 3:22

12.03.17 Lyrics

Readings & Scripture

Call To Worship: Isaiah 2:2-5 (ESV)

LEADER/LIGHTER: The first candle on the Advent wreath is called the Prophecy candle, it opens the period that anticipates Christmas and remembers those who first spoke the promise of the coming Christ child.

LEADER/LIGHTER: 2 It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, 3 and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 4 He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.

PEOPLE: 5 O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.

Old Testament: Jeremiah 29:5-7

Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

New Testament: John 1:9-13

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Corporate Confession of Sin: Matthew 5:43-45

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Assurance of Pardon: Hebrews 4:14-16

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Central Text: Jonah 1
Jonah 1:1 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” 3 But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD.

Jonah 1:4 But the LORD hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. 5 Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep. 6 So the captain came and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.”

Jonah 1:7 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. 8 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?” 9 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.” 10 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.

Jonah 1:11 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. 12 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.” 13 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. 14 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.” 15 So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.

Jonah 1:17 And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.


Leader: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
People: his mercies never come to an end. (Lamentations 3:22)


Related Scriptures:
2 Kings 14
Psalm 67
Psalm 87
Eph 5:8-17

Discussion Questions & Applications:

  1. What if anything do you remember about the first time you heard the story of Jonah?
  2. Why do you think Jonah made it into the Bible? What might its purpose(s) have been?
  3. What keeps you from extending mercy to those who might be merciless toward you or someone you love?
  4. Why might reckoning with how you’ve been the beneficiary of mercies change your willingness to extend mercy?
  5. How is Jonah nearly a perfect foil--a stark contrast--to Jesus?
  6. How does mercy of the Gospel function to equip us for entering into the wideness of God’s mercy? Why must we grasp the depth of our need of mercy to find the strength to participate in its scope?


  • ...we had become emblematic of our times, part of that troubling despoiled era when Americans quit listening to each other. - Pat Conroy, Beach Music
  • When I label people I no longer have to deal with them thoughtfully. - David Dark
  • . . .simple justice is not God’s way. His love drives him beyond justice. - Terence Fretheim
  • The real point is that God is much more merciful than 'prophets', is easily moved by penitence, and won't be dictated to even by high ecclesiastics whom he has himself appointed. - J.R.R. Tolkien in a letter to his grandson about the meaning of Jonah
  • Most people don’t understand mercy because they think they’re too good to deserve any.  - Flannery O’Connor
  • The less forgivable the act, the more it must be forgiven; the less loveable the person is, the more you must find the means to love them.  - Sister Mary Jean Prejean


Revelation,” by Flannery O’Connor (

ISIS Destroyed Jonah’s Tomb, but Not Its Message,” by Sara Farhan, Atoor Lawandow, and Sigal Samuel (

Jonah and the Dangerous Journey, a sermon by Sinclair Ferguson (Jonah and the Dangerous Journey - Jonah 1:1-17)