Holy Saturday: Jonah, the Elder Brother, and Resentment

"Jonah and the Whale" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward


Today is Holy Saturday.
It reminds me of the sign of Jonah.
This got me thinking about resentment.

Why was Jonah swallowed by the great fish?
Because he resented that Nineveh would experience God’s love.

Why was the elder brother disturbed when the prodigal son came home?
Because he resented that his brother would experience the father’s love.

Jonah felt Nineveh didn’t deserve it.
The older brother felt the prodigal son didn’t deserve it either.

The wicked Ninevites, like the sinful brother, should not enjoy the same privilege Jonah and the elder brother do. It’s not fair!

It wasn't just the love, but what it looked like:
No punishment. No payment. No promise of permanent change.
Instead, parties and celebration!

They both resented that they received love anyway.
They both resented that they were welcomed anyway.
They both think love is a deserved privilege and not a gift.

But love is always a gift!
It has nothing to do with whether or not it is deserved.

I want to go deeper.

Resentment may first present itself as a refusal to allow the other to experience love. The fact that Jonah and the elder brother resented the other being loved motivated them to prevent the other from experiencing it.

Jonah ran away and sulked.
The elder brother sulked and refused to join the party.


If you resent certain people being welcomed, you will try to prevent them from being welcomed.

Resentment is a bitter root beneath the rejection of others.

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