An Armenian nurse had been held captive along with her brother by the Turks. Her brother was slain by a Turkish soldier before her eyes. Somehow, she escaped and, later, became a nurse in a military hospital.
One day, she was stunned to find that the same man who had killed her brother had been captured and brought, wounded, to the hospital where she worked. Something within her cried out, "Vengeance!" But, a stronger voice called for her to love. She nursed the man back to health.
Finally, the recuperating soldier asked her, "Why didn't you let me die?"
Her answer was, "I am a follower of Him who said, 'Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you.'
Impressed with her answer, the young soldier replied, "I never heard such words before. Tell me more. I want this kind of religion."
It’s really hard to be kind to people who aren’t kind to us. When people are vehemently opposed to who we are or what we believe, we’re often tempted to give them a wide berth, or to do them harm. Sometimes, we're even tempted to do this on Jesus' behalf, with those who we think are his enemies.
In this message, we'll discover how the story of Jonah reveals Jesus' heart for his enemies and how he wants us to handle them. The fact is: Jesus has called his followers to a different way of looking at the world than others do, and that includes loving our (and Jesus') enemies.
If you need a refresher on the story of Jonah, go ahead and read Jonah 1-3.
Jonah wasn't so much afraid of the Ninevites though, as he was afraid that God wouldn't destroy them:
Jonah 4: But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed to the LORD and said, “O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” And the LORD said, “Do you do well to be angry?”
Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city. Now the LORD God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” And the LORD said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”
Nineveh was the capital of the nation of Assyria, enemies of the nation of Israel. Jonah figured that, if he avoided giving God's message to his enemies, they would not turn to God and God would destroy them. He tried to force God's hand into getting rid of Israel's problem, but that wasn't what God wanted.
Jesus loves those who hate him and has called you to do the same.
God: saved the wicked people of Nineveh
Jesus: came to earth to save people who had rejected him.
Jesus: died for sinful people
Jesus: asked God the Father to forgive the people who were torturing and killing him.
Jesus: said to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
Jesus: said to go into ALL The World and make disciples and to love your neighbour as yourself…even if your neighbour is your enemy.
And if you still think they don't deserve it, remember:
Before you came to Jesus, you were one of those enemies.
How can we follow the call of Jesus? Here's somewhere to start:
Check your attitude and fear at the door and invite at least two unchurched people to our Easter Extravaganza this week!
Listen to the whole message: