The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. – Luke 11:32
In ancient Jewish history and culture, it would be difficult to imagine a people more despised than the Assyrians. It is for this reason, it seems, that Jonah rejected the command and intentions of God that he go to their capitol city and warn them of God’s impending judgment. The unwilling prophet did not want them to repent, he wanted them to be destroyed. Yet, Jonah eventually arrived in Nineveh, the Ninevites repented, and God’s destruction upon them was averted.
Jesus, speaking to the Jewish leaders of His day, compared them to the Ninevites to whom Jonah had preached. Though One much greater than Jonah was present among those who had historically condemned the repentant Ninevites, they themselves still refused to turn from their sin.
From Jesus’ comparison two truths emerge. First, it is always easier to see someone else’s sin. This is why Jesus said that a person should remove the “log” in his own eye before going after a “speck” in another’s. Second, whatever the sin, the judgment for the sin of rejecting Christ is greater than any other punishment a person will face.
In this one instance, it was certainly better to be a Ninevite.
All men will be “Peters” in their bragging tongue, and most men will be “Peter” in their base denial; but few men will be “Peters” in their genuine repentance. – Owen Feltham
Dr. David Pope is President and Founder of POPE Initiatives, a non-profit organization committed to providing executive-level management and support services for major global mission efforts.
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