the weblog of Alan Knox

God actually cares about THOSE people: lessons from Jonah and Mark

Posted by on Jan 5, 2012 in discipleship, love, scripture | 8 comments

God actually cares about THOSE people: lessons from Jonah and Mark

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?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 1-5-2012

    There is that scene in Castaway, where Chuck is lying on his raft, just about out of it, and we see this massive ocean going vessel alongside. My understanding of God’s grace is dwarfed like that raft, and everytime I catch a glimpse of how good and gracious God is, it feels like that moment when Chuck’s eyes flutter open in a squint, and then widen, catching his breath away, and fulfilling his wildest hopes.

  2. 1-6-2012


    Why do you think we tend to cling to God’s goodness and graciousness when it pertains to ourselves… but not necessarily to others? (Like toward THOSE people?)


  3. 1-6-2012

    We can’t offer what we haven’t received.

    There is the story of the old minister on his deathbed. He had been a faithful servant many long years. In attendance was a young minister, who, in trying to comfort the old man, suggested, “Pastor, you are going home to well deserved reward.” The old pastor sighed, and whispered, “No, pastor, I am going home accepted in the arms of grace undeserved.”

    I think most of us never really let go of the notion we have to earn God’s grace, and be worthy of God’s grace to maintain it. So, we listen intently to grace as it pertains to us. We are keenly interested in it. We even long for it. Some of us work very hard to be worthy and make all sorts of sacrifices.

    But, in the end, we cannot curl up in Him against Him with our head fully resting on His arm. We have not been captured by grace: freed from performance we can never meet and from the exhausting efforts of maintaining self-deceptions that we do measure up (when we know within we do not).

    Rather than extending grace to THOSE people, we extend judgement, needing to be better than them in the hopes it will be enough for God and bitter that such should be extended grace when we have worked so hard and have not received it yet ourselves.

    Imagine how kind, how forbearing, how gentle, how gracious we might be if we were truly “rooted and grounded in love, comprehending with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge,” completely accepted and forgiven for all the evil that we do and that lies within our hearts? We would be “filled with all the fulness of God.”

    “He who has been forgiven much, the same loveth much.”

  4. 1-6-2012


    Great comment! Tell me again why you aren’t blogging…


  5. 1-8-2012


    Here is a great post that speaks directly to what you are saying that I think you may enjoy. Here’s my summary in light of your post…

    The assumption that a pure thing (the Kingdom or us) becomes impure by contact with something impure (THOSE people) rather than the other way around is called negativity dominance. This is our fallen psychology. Jesus practiced positivity dominance as He got around the impure and rubbed off His purity onto them. We are invited to do the same by replacing our fallen psychology with redeemed psychology. We can only practice this if we are around impure things.

    Jesus taught this when He when He told His disciples about building His church. The rock that Jesus was standing on when He told them this was an impure one (it wasn’t Peter or his confession). It was a literal rock called the Rock of the Gods where pagan rituals and worship took place. In plain view were the gates of Hades, the name the people gave to a river coming out of the hill because it looked like it led to the underworld.

    Jesus’ point? The church is built upon the impure. Therefore, the church wrongly only plays defense against impure things when it should also play offense.

  6. 1-9-2012


    Thanks for the link and summary! I like this: “The church is built upon the impure.”


  7. 1-9-2012

    beautiful and humbling post…gulp.

    thank you Alan.

  8. 1-9-2012


    Thanks. And, I was talking to myself in this post as much as to anyone else. I’m glad this is challenging to others as well.