Believe Like Nineveh; Proclaim Like Jonah

Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!

Readings for January 24, 2021; Third Sunday after the Epiphany

Jonah 3:1-5, 10 Psalm 62; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 (32-35); Mark 1: 14-20

Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” [This time] Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. Jonah 3:1-5, 10

I love the story of Jonah. The awesome thing about this story is that this very large, non-God fearing city, did believe that what Jonah was proclaiming was true; that the God of Heaven and Earth was not pleased with them and their evil actions, and would destroy them in forty days if they continued in their ways. And by doing so, they were saved from the impending doom.

They weren’t God’s ‘chosen’ ones. They didn’t have the Ten Commandments and all the other Laws that the Israelites were to live by. Couldn’t they just do their own thing? Why should they bother heeding Jonah’s words? They had the choice not to heed the warning, yet, they did. They knew deep down that there was a God above all gods. That he was sending them a warning that they needed to listen to because this God didn’t mess around. He was not a God of idol threats and empty promises. They believed his words to be true and that he would follow through if they did not repent and change their ways. However, they also knew that this God was a God of mercy. They believed God and repented, and in so doing, were spared their destruction.

In the same way, we are no different than the Ninevites, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23). Our sin has separated us from our God, and one day we will be faced with our earthly destruction. However, just like he did with the Ninevites, in his grace, God has given us a message to spare us. “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2: 10-11) This baby born is our Messiah, our Redeemer. He is the one who was born to take away the sin of the world. In him our sins are forgiven and our life is renewed. We need not fear the end of our days. So, whether someone chooses to believe and to heed this or not, it remains a fact. Yes, just like our earthly death is a fact, so is the reality of Jesus. We just need to believe: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) So be like the Ninevites and believe. Yes, answer the knocking on the door to your heart and the Holy Spirit will enter with his precious gift of Faith. Then be like Jonah and share the news with all you meet. Yes, be someone’s Jonah and share God’s gracious message of salvation so that they too may hear and believe and be saved.

Prayer: Dear God the Father and Creator, in your grace you have saved me from the destruction my sin deserves. You have proclaimed to the world your salvation in Jesus. There is no hidden secret. Please help me to share your saving news to those who do not yet know it, like Jonah did. And I pray that your Holy Spirit prepare their hearts to believe, as the Ninevites did. In Jesus’ name I pray. AMEN!

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