Sermon (January 25) – “Following Jesus”
The Ninevites received warning that they would soon be destroyed, yet when they repented, God held back the wrath in store for them.
Jonah was an 8th century prophet who prophesied in northern Israel. While the Book of Jonah focuses on a serious matter, it is also playful with humor.
When the Lord calls Jonah to prophesy to the people of the despised Nineties, he runs the opposite direction, ends up being swallowed by a fish, only to be called again to go to Ninevah!
The theme of this scripture is repentance. The Ninevites end up repenting. This is a story of how God’s love is universal and for all people. This is also a story about how we are sometimes reluctant to extend God’s love to all people.
The end of the Jonah story becomes really serious when Jonah contemplates ending his life. Actually, the story doesn’t have a clear ending and we are left to wonder how things turned out in the story. The story forces us to come face to face with the prejudices we have with other people.
This is a passage about hope. Even with the arrest of John the Baptist, Jesus begins his ministry of hope and healing for the world.
Jesus is announcing a key theme of the gospels, that the kingdom of God is near. God’s future is breaking into the present time through the ministry of Jesus. We are to repent BECAUSE the kingdom of God has come near. It has already come. We need to get on board.
Our response to the announcement of this good news of God’s kingdom breaking into our present is to repent and to believe in this good news. We are called to follow Jesus and live a life of faith.
These first four followers of Jesus are models of discipleship. They begin to make Jesus the number one priority in their lives.
[Note: The resources used for these scripture reading commentaries are based on the Everyone series by NT Wright, Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary, The Wesley Study Bible, and the “Montreal-Anglican”lectionary commentaries.]