“The Second Chance” (Mercy Upon Mercy)
Scripture: Jonah 3:1-3
What do you call it when somebody gives a person a second chance who doesn’t deserve it? Foolish? Absurd? Illogical? God has another name for it. Merciful. When we mess up, often in the same things, God does not grimace and scowl at us but he is ready and poised to show us mercy. Jonah messed up when he disobeyed God and tried to flee his presence. And yet in chapter 3, we see Jonah being recommissioned by God for the same task. Using almost the exact same words as chapter 1, the word of the Lord comes to Jonah. But the key difference? It was “the second time.” Why did God give Jonah a second chance when Jonah had proved himself so unfaithful? Was God in short supply of messengers and prophets? Not at all. This recommission reveals something about God and his heart. He is a God of second chances and infinite chances.
There are many instances in the Bible where God did not give somebody a second chance. Lot’s wife, Moses, King Saul, Ananias and Sapphira, and the list goes on. The point is that nobody deserves a second chance from God. Let alone a third, fourth or fifth one. When God calls Jonah to serve him again, this is not just good news for Jonah but for us as well. It reveals something tremendous about God, not something impressive about Jonah. God gives Jonah a second chance not because Jonah had merit but because he is full of mercy. In the same way, God gives us infinite chances because of his mercy, not our merit. After all, we’re the only part of God’s whole creation that dares to hear his voice and disobey. The skies, the waters, the sun never needed a second chance from God because they never disobeyed. And yet we, the pinnacle of God’s creation, need God’s mercy again and again.
God does not show us mercy upon mercy because he is giving us chance after chance to prove ourselves and earn our own salvation. God does not given second chances for redemption but for relationship. For our redemption God gave us Jesus. Jesus came as one greater than Jonah and he did everything right the first time. He came to this earth and lived in perfect obedience. Because he got it right the first time, even when we get it wrong, God stills counts his Son’s obedience as ours. So Jesus redeems us, not our second chances. So then why does God give second chances? For relationship. Because we know God is the Father of mercies and a God of infinite chances, we can keep coming to him again and again. We never need to fear that we will bankrupt him of his mercies. And so we can keep coming to him again and again, unafraid that he will ever turn us away. He will meet our mistakes with mercy, our failure with forgiveness, and our sins with his Son.
Group Discussion Questions
- Have you ever had a transformational experience of receiving a second chance from another person? Have you ever had to give another person a second chance that was costly for you?
- What are some of the reasons you feel hesitant to come to God after you’ve sinned? Is it different if they are reoccurring/habitual sins? How do you imagine God views you and thinks about you in those moments?
- If the spectrum ranges (1-10) from viewing yourself as deserving God’s mercy (the error of entitlement) to viewing yourself as unworthy of God’s mercy (the error of disbelief), where would you place yourself? Has it changed over the years? What contributes? How does where you are on the spectrum affect your relationship with God?
- Have you come to truly believe that God is “the Father of mercies” (2 Cor. 1:3) and “rich in mercy” (Eph. 2:4) or is there a suspicion of it? How can you believe more that God doesn’t simply possess mercy but that God is merciful? What difference would this make?
- Express how this sermon helps you understand, appreciate and worship Jesus more. In what ways has the gospel become more alive to you having read this passage and heard this message?
- Everybody should formulate a one sentence prayer response and request to everything heard and discussed. Have a few people share what they came up with.