The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very important city—a visit required three days. On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.” The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. … When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.
The God of Second Chances
Jonah believed that God is gracious and compassionate. He rejoiced in the second chance God had given him. But not even a three-night stay in the belly of a fish fully convinced Jonah that Nineveh deserved a second chance. Nevertheless, Jonah went. He shared God’s message. The Ninevites repented. And God gave them a second chance.
Christians believe God has given the world a second chance. Jesus died for our sins and rose again. For the sake of Jesus, God forgives us all completely and unconditionally. How can we rate someone else as unworthy of God’s compassion? That’s what Jonah did.
Christians believe they are not worthy of a second chance. All have sinned. And all sin is a crime against our Creator that is deserving of death. How can we say that our sin is less offensive to God than someone else’s? That’s what Jonah did.
Christians believe that God is gracious. Even though we do not deserve it, God sent us One who is greater than Jonah. Jesus not only preached against sin, he paid for our sin with his blood. He sank to the depths of hell and spent three days in the belly of the earth. But death could not stomach Jesus because Jesus had no sin of his own. In Christ, God has relented and promised not to bring on us the destruction we deserve.
Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed (Lamentations 3:22).
Heavenly Father, I have sinned against you. But I believe that Jesus is my second chance. Help me to forgive as you have forgiven me. Amen.
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