So they called out to the Lord: “Please, Yahweh, don’t let us perish because of this man’s life, and don’t charge us with innocent blood!“Jonah 1:14a (HCSB)
The sailors finally give up on trying to sail away from the storm. They grab Jonah and get ready to throw him overboard. Just before they do, they offer up a prayer. The men have been led to believe that Jonah is the reason for the storm, that Jonah is guilty of the great crime of mutiny against God. But the sailors were not present when it happened; they cannot be sure: What if Jonah is innocent? They don’t want to be counted guilty of murder if they get it wrong! They cry out for God—Yahweh as Jonah had named Him—to not let their action in killing Jonah be counted against them, and if Jonah is innocent, not to charge them with his blood. It is a powerful plea. It is one that we do well to reflect on. When we look to the true and greater Jonah—Jesus—we realise that things are a little different.
At Pentecost, there were gathered people from east and west, north and south: hundreds of pilgrims who had not been there when Jesus was crucified. Yet in his sermon to them, Peter brings his message to a shocking conclusion: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah” (Acts 2:36). Peter looked into the eyes of strangers who had not even heard of Jesus and said, ‘You killed Jesus. His blood is on your hands; you murdered the Messiah.’ Peter looks at you and says, ‘You killed Jesus. You murdered the only person who has ever been 100% innocent.’
I killed the King, I murdered the Messiah. Every sin I commit is the reason Jesus died; every time I sin, I hammer the nails into the hands of my Saviour. Each time I turn from God, I spit in His face and place a crown of thorns on His head. There is no doubt for us: we killed Jesus and He was innocent. So what can we do? Peter told the people, who like us, were desperate to know what to do, “Repent!” Cry and plead to Yahweh, as did the sailors with Jonah, to forgive you. Trust that He will, because that is why Jesus came.