Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2017
The Jonah Saga
Jonah 1–4; 2 Kings 14:25; Isaiah 56:7; Isaiah 44:8; Matthew 12:40; Revelation 14:6–12
July 25, 2015
She completed the last item on her bucket list before she died. Rebecca Townsend was a Connecticut teenager who was struck and killed by a car a few weeks ago. As she was crossing a road with a friend, Ben Arne, she pushed him out of the way of a speeding car and saved his life. Her sisters later found Rebecca’s bucket list in her room after her death. It was part of a classroom assignment she had written three years earlier. 
Rebecca had already accomplished the first two items on her list: to travel to Spain and to get kissed in the rain. She had recently graduated from high school and was planning to attend the University of Notre Dame in the fall. The accident happened while she and her friends were returning from watching fireworks.
She was a sophomore in high school when she wrote a bucket list as part of a class assignment. The three things on her list were: kiss in the rain, fly to Spain, save a life. The Townsend family did take a trip to Spain and her boyfriend did kiss her in the rain. When Ben was released from the hospital, he visited the family and told them, “The last thing I remember is Rebecca pushing me and telling me to hurry up.” Ben’s life was saved when Rebecca received the brunt of the impact.
Our Sabbath school lesson this week is about a reluctant missionary who tried to run away from God. Jonah didn’t want to save anyone’s life but his own. So he went down to Joppa, down into the bottom of a boat, and finally went down to the bottom of the sea. But God never forsook the rebellious prophet.
Even though Jonah exhibited several character qualities that were not very admirable, we see hidden within his story the message of salvation. When a severe storm struck the ship in which Jonah was hiding, the Gentiles cried out to their gods and tried to save the vessel. They eventually discovered the Hebrew sleeping below. Notice their question: “What shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us?” (Jonah 1:11, NKJV).
It’s a question we all ask when faced with our own storms. “How can I find peace?” The disciples wondered the same thing when they were in a storm. Like Jonah, Jesus lay asleep in the bottom of the boat. Both of them provided the answer to calming the storm. What did Jonah tell the heathen sailors to do? “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me” (verse 12).
Rebecca Townsend chose to step in front of an oncoming car in order to save a friend’s life. Her sacrificial spirit brought peace to another, though it cost her own life. Jonah chose to be sacrificed as well. Just as Jesus went down into the grave for three days and was then raised to life, Jonah went down in to the sea for three days and then was brought back, as it were, from the dead.
Even though Jonah was a less-than-perfect missionary, God used him to teach us about the one and only item on heaven’s “bucket list”—to save lives.