Nineveh, The Church, and the Religious Folks
Matthew 12:40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days and three nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth. 41 The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here! 42 The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here!
As Jesus speaks of his impending death on the cross those listening fail to understand. The sign of Jonah will be theirs. Jesus will be consumed by the darkness of this world for three days but will then rise again.
The people of Nineveh heard the good news and repented. There would those who would hear the good news about Jesus and would repent as well. These would not be the religious folks, but it would be those who would come from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon — and the Church would be born.
Just as the Ninevites heard and responded, so would those who would come from far and wide — but the religious folks would not listen and their hearts were hardened, not responding. They would stand condemned.
Over and over again as I read these Scriptures I am frustrated by the religious folks, but then I have to search my own heart and see if I find myself there. The “wicked” folks of Nineveh listened to the word and responded. The people from the ends of the earth were moved on the day of Pentecost and they responded. The people who thought they knew everything there was to know about the Scriptures refused to respond. They died as stubborn, angry, critical and frustrated individuals.
Where am I in this story?
The people who heard and repented were the unlikely folks. They weren’t too proud and they didn’t try to defend themselves.
I have to be willing to honestly examine myself and where I stand before God. My pride can’t get in the way of God speaking to me and pointing out my weaknesses and great need for him. I want to find myself somewhere in the midst of those coming and seeking for wisdom, being willing to admit my failures. Not fighting for my own “rightness” but seeking his “righteousness.”
The sign of Jonah remains for us today. Somewhere we find ourselves in Nineveh, among the religious leaders, or the throngs of people who humbly came to know God and his wisdom.
Lord, may I be willing to stand before you in humility. Amen.