As I’ve mentioned a few times, we ready the books of Jonah and Mark together as a church last Saturday, New Year’s Eve. Then, the next day, Sunday, New Year’s Day, we discussed these two books together.
When we read Jonah then immediately read the first few chapters of the Gospel of Mark (before taking a short break), I noticed something. When we discussed these two books, other people said that they noticed the same thing.
What did we notice? God actually cares about THOSE people!
What people am I talking about? You know what people I’m talking about. THOSE people. People who set themselves against God and his people. People who do not live the right way. People who follows the ways of the world instead of living for God.
God actually cares about THOSE people.
In Jonah, it’s the people of Nineveh. THOSE people were the enemies of Israel. Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian empire, the very people who would invade Israel in only a few decades. They were pagans, setting themselves against God. And Jonah, the great prophet of God – a man of God – called by God – knew what kind of people these were. They deserved to be destroyed by God because of their wickedness.
But, God had mercy on THOSE people. He gave them the opportunity to repent, they did, and he spared them.
Then, in Mark, the Jewish leaders also recognized the difference between themselves – the holy men of God – and THOSE people. THOSE people were Gentiles, tax collectors, prostitutes, demon possessed, etc. They were stricken by God while the Pharisees and Sadducees and other religious leaders were blessed by God.
But, Jesus took care of THOSE people. He loved them. He touched them. He healed them. He talked with them.
Jesus even ate with THOSE people!
In fact, Jesus put THOSE people above keeping the Sabbath! He put the needs of THOSE people above the rules about devoting your resources to God, for heaven’s sake! What can be better than setting aside your money for God and the temple and the religious leaders (even if it might mean neglecting someone’s parents)?
At least Jonah and Mark were all stories from “back then.” Today, we know the kind of people that Jesus wants us to hang out with. And, he certainly doesn’t want us to spend time with THOSE people. (You know what kind of people I’m talking about.)
Today, God wants us to only hang around his people, people who belong to him, and who live for him (in the way that we think they should live for him).
Yes, I’m sure that God still cares about THOSE people, but he doesn’t expect me to care about them too… right?