Tag Archives: lost

A Whale of a Story

This weeks reading is the book of Jonah. Most of us have heard the story of Jonah and the whale so often, we can recite it from memory. However, looking closer at the story, the point is more than a rebellious prophet unwilling to obey God. Right off the bat we find that God not only pays attention to the prayers of the Saints, but is aware of the evil going on in the world. The commission of Jonah to go preach was met with resistance and out right rebellion.

Throughout this story we find that God is in control. He sets in motion the “natural” things to accomplish His will. The story is more about the Father’s grace and mercy, than it is about Jonah. Even though Nineveh was wicked, God was compassionate to send a witness to them. The knowledge of Jonah about what God could do, resulted in his running away. Jonah knew that God was compassionate, merciful and gracious. Jonah’s problem was he didn’t want salvation for Nineveh, but judgment. Too often we are like that too. We would rather see the “wicked” get theirs, rather than get mercy. Yet this is ironic because Jonah was the object of God’s mercy, as we are – why shouldn’t we want others to come to know the Lord? Probable because then we have to love those who we love to hate.

In this story we have two groups of “Gentiles” the ship mates and the Ninevites. Gentile people were considered unclean and below the Gospel. So strong is Jonah’s hatred for the city of Nineveh, he would rather die, then preach to them.  On the ship we find Jonah taking his ease in the midst of the storm, which God rose up, Jonah is sleeping  and the shipmates are crying out to their gods. In 1:6 the cry of the gentiles – “call out to your God, maybe He will have compassion on us that we should not perish. This is repeated by the King of Nineveh – 3:9. The Gentiles were hopeful that Jonah’s God would be merciful on them. Jonah didn’t care about anyone else but himself and his own prejudices.  The rebellion of Jonah is come to light, the shipmates ask, How Could You Do This? Still unrepentant, “just throw me in the sea, and all will be okay.” Jonah had no regard for what he was doing to others. 1st a person cannot run from God – He is omnipresence, secondly God is mercy and long-suffering and does not want anyone to perish. Oh that we would be as compassionate about the Lost regardless of how sinful they are and how repulsed we feel about them! Just as God raises up a storm, He APPOINTS a fish to swallow Jonah. This speaks of God’s omnipotence. There is nothing that is not subjected unto His authority. Finally, Jonah prays, weird place to pray, but inside a whale is as good as any I guess. I often thought of 3:1 being an example of God giving 2nd chance, however really, this is God still working out His plan. The plan never changed – go to Nineveh and preach!

Nineveh was a big city of 3 days walk, notice though that Jonah only walked 1/3 of the city [3:4]. He didn’t even walk through the entire city to let all know. Here is God’s love revealed – He will use the meager attempts of obedience to accomplish His will. Just as Jonah feared, the people repented and Nineveh last another 100 years.  Rather than be over joyed at the repentance of the people, Jonah still has an attitude against God and the “wicked” Ninevites. The story about the plant that provides relief and then the boiling heat after it withers, exposes the carnality of Jonah. In the end – Jonah the messenger of God cared less for the Lost and more about the plant that provided him shade. The sailors and the Ninevites both call on God for salvation and worship Him for who He is; yet the one most familiar, was “displeased” with God for saving the scoundrels.

I wonder in our time, are those that we would rather see punished, killed or annihilated rather than redeemed by the Grace that we have been recipients of? Jonah preached against the people, not for the people. He only wanted to indict them with the Gospel, not get them redeemed? Are preachers guilty of the same today. Example are, we more prone to preach against homosexuals and drug addicts; adulterers and the like than we are to reach out to them with the Grace and Mercy of God?

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The Jesus Ministry

The chapters of Luke 9-13 are filled with so many kinds of topics, it is difficult to settle on one theme. Our reading begins with the “Call, power and sending out ” of the disciples. They after having watched Jesus for approximately 18 months now get to engage in the work He was doing. The work of the disciples becomes so known, that even Herod that “old Fox” feels conviction, fearing that John the Baptist has been reincarnated. Yes Jews believed in reincarnation to some degree [see Luke 9:18-19]. When the disciples return they explain the results to Jesus. He takes them away, but the crowds follow. In these high popularity years Jesus does a lot of healing, and crowd gathering. His message shifts to the Kingdom of God and the task that is before Him. Remember the Jews are looking for a Messiah, albeit a faulty expectation from the real Messiah that Jesus would be at that time.

Jesus begins to tell the disciples how he will go to the cross, He shows them His glory on the mount of Transfiguration; and all they do is asked for “priority seating” in the Kingdom of God [Luke 9:46-48]. The disciples were very sympathetic or discerning of what Jesus was really all about. Before we chastise them, we aren’t much better today. Before Jesus goes to Jerusalem there is one last major evangelistic thrust, and open revelation of who He is; He sends out 70 ahead, to prepare the people by way of announcement.

The are times when I hear that sometimes my preaching is a bit too harsh or in your face. Yet when I look at the preaching of Jesus and the Apostles, I find not a wimpy preaching approach, but one that is bold and truthful about the judgment and the condemnation on the unrepentant cities and communities. Even the cities of Bethsaida and Capernaum are chastised for their unbelief.

It always follows that when God has done a great work [the return of the 70’s report] that evil wants to discount and destroy the testimony of the work. In chapter 10, the lawyer bent on discrediting Jesus puts Him to the test with a question that the lawyer already knows the answer to. Such as it is, Jesus does His best teaching through great illustrations ans stories – in this case the Good Samaritan story. In the end, the lawyer is corrected in his thinking about neighbors, but unmoved in his prejudice against Samaritans, all he could reply to Jesus was “the one who showed mercy.” [Luke 10:37]

I have studied Luke 11:1-13 extensively, it is a very good passage about prayer. I pondered why the Disciples would ask Jesus to teach them to pray, when every good Jew prayed 3 times a day. The secret is they were missing the “power” behind the prayers. When Jesus prayed, things happened! This is not the case for many believers; we know we should pray, want our prayers heard, but find great difficulty in maintaining a prayer life.  The secret is not “saying prayers” but communicating with the person to whom we are praying too. We forget that prayer in its simplest form is just dialog with Jesus.  Prayer is not so much about asking for things as it is about know Jesus.

As with ministry today, there are varied reactions to the Gospel. Jesus is considered to be Beelzebub or Satan doing the works that He does. The Jews really don’t appear to be too smart at times – as Jesus dismisses the remark by “house divided against itself” giving truth that if Jesus was Satan, He is destroying Satan’s own work. Jesus will continue to have opposition from here on to the Cross. One of the thought we must come to understand; as we profess and live out the believer’s life, there will be times of great opposition. We are no better than out Master!

A funny passage is Luke 10:37-53; I title it “What a Lunch!” Jesus was asked to lunch by a Pharisee, from there things went downhill fast. Jesus pronounces Woes on the Pharisees and condemns the religious rulers for their part in killing the prophets and apostles. Needless, after the lunch, they are ready to kill him; and will from now on seek to do just that.

Jesus preaching has become more intense; no longer is He trying to present evidence that He is the Messiah, but is bringing the message of how people will be judged at the End of the Age. Warnings are given to those who have ears to hear.  Please note that the Gospel is Offensive! Chapter 12:49-53 explains how that families will be divided over who Jesus and the Gospel. I have seen this happen in families and it is so sad.  The Cross looms in front of Christ; He is resolved to embrace His “baptism” of agony and trial, for this is His reason for coming – to seek and to save that which is lost, and to give His life as a ransom for many.

Through all the teaching, miracles and healing, Jesus focus has always been “get to the Cross.” He did not come for popularity, self glory or create a following. He came to be the Savior of the world; delivering us from sin and wrath.

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