Today on Summit Life, a study in contrast. Jonah ran from his assignment. Jesus ran toward it. Jonah came only because he had to.
Jesus became because he wanted to. Jonah was thrown overboard into the sea because of his sin. Jesus was cast into the sea of God's wrath for our sin. Jonah was taken down into the depths of darkness for three days because of his disobedience.
Jesus was taken into the darkness of death for three days for ours. Welcome to Summit Life with J.D. Greer, pastor of the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.
I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. You know, sometimes the best way to compare two things is by looking at how they're different rather than how they're the same. That contrast helps highlight the good versus the better. As Pastor J.D. concludes our message in the Castaway series today, he's revealing how Jonah's message to the Ninevites compares to Jesus's message to a lost and dying world.
And thankfully, there's some pretty distinct differences that bring hope to us today. Let's not waste any time and jump right into the message Pastor J.D. titled, Something Greater Than Jonah. Matthew chapter 12 is where we're going to begin here. Matthew chapter 12, let's begin in verse 38. Then some of the scribes and the Pharisees answered Jesus saying, teacher, we wish to see a sign from you. They're like Jesus.
We want to see some proof that you are who you say you are. All right, verse 39. But he answered them, an evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Verse 41, the men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it because they repented. The Ninevites repented at the preaching of Jonah and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. So you got three questions I think that come out of this text.
Here they are. Number one, how was Jesus' message similar to Jonah's? Secondly, how was Jesus' message greater than Jonah's?
That's going to lead us to a third question and that is, are the people of Nineveh going to condemn you on the day of judgment? Okay? All right, so let's get right to it. Question number one that we are going to deal with.
Here we go. How is Jesus' message similar to Jonah's? How is Jesus' message similar to Jonah's? So let's start with Jonah's message. Jonah's message, again, was just five words in Hebrew. Yod, Abayim, Vennevah, Yom Nepaket, translated into English as eight words, yet 40 days and Nineveh shall be overthrown.
Now, let's be honest. There's not much in there to look at and to analyze, but there are two words that stand out to me. The first is 40 days and then the second is overthrown. 40 days. In the Bible, 40 is the number of judgment. 40 is the number of judgment. Overthrown.
Overthrown is a war term. So Jonah's message was one of appointed judgment, which means that there is an appointed time of judgment for you. It might be this afternoon. It might be this week.
It might be next year. It might be 10 years from now, 80 years from now. I don't know, but I know that there is an appointed time of judgment for you. Do you ever think about that day? Because ultimately, it's like Martin Luther used to say, only two days matter, this day and that day.
This day, what I'm doing on this day for God, and then that day when I stand before him and give an account. Do you ever seriously think about that question? All right? Okay. That's how it was similar to Jonah's. Let me give you now how the message is greater than Jonah's. How Jesus' message is greater than Jonah's. Give you three ways. One, the surety of it.
The surety of it. Nineveh, Nineveh got ripped off, didn't he? They got a very truncated message. It wasn't a good message. You remember how the king responded, chapter three, verse nine? Who knows?
God may turn and relent so that we may not perish. Who knows? He didn't know. Why didn't he know? Because Jonah didn't tell him, yet they repented. They didn't know if they repented, God would not have them perish. You know, John 3 16, God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whosoever believes in him would not perish, but would have everlasting life. You got promises all through the New Testament that give you a promise of surety that the people of Nineveh never got, yet they repented.
Here's the second way it was greater. The richness of it. Nineveh had only the hope that God would relent from the destruction he had promised. The gospel is that Jesus gives us his righteousness and his privilege and his standing before God so that not only does God relent from the disaster, he also makes us sons and daughters and wives and daughters of God. It's what we refer to here around the Summit Church as gift righteousness. God's righteousness given as a gift.
We say that you could summarize the gospel in four words, Jesus in my place, Jesus taking my place on the cross so I could take his position before the throne of God and I would have his record credited to mine. I thought of that as I was praying here for our services. I think about this frequently and I say something to God like this. I kid you not. I'm like, God, let me tell you why I think you should hear my prayers for that I'm praying about these people.
Here's why. Because this week, this week I fasted for 40 days and resisted Satan to his face. I had so much faith that I walked on water and fed 5,000. They crucified me this week and when I was being crucified I didn't give anger back to everybody. I said, Father, forgive them because they don't know what they're doing.
Of course, I didn't do those things. Jesus did those things but his record became mine so that in him I become the righteousness of God. That's the richness of what Jesus offers to me. Jesus in my place, gift, righteousness.
You see how much richer that is than the message that Jonah gave to those people? I've told just a version of this before but I'll flesh it out a little bit. My wife and I have been married for about 12 years. When we got married, I was a full-time Ph.D. student which means that I didn't have what you would call a job which meant I didn't have what you would call cash flow. I'm dirt poor.
Actually, I'll take that back. I did have a job. It was here at this church but you people didn't pay me jack squat. It was like I barely had enough money to pay rent and put gas on the car. I was talking I was dirt poor.
You should feel bad about that. I had no job, real job. I had no cash flow. My wife had just graduated right before we got married from college, not high school.
I get that question a lot. She just graduated from college and she had gotten a job at a public school which you're never going to get wealthy doing that but it is a full-time income. When we got married on July 28th of the year 2000 and I said those words, I do. In that moment, first of all, I received a beautiful bride who was the love of my life and who would be my constant companion, my faithful wife, and my very best friend. In that moment, I also received cash flow. Here was the awesome thing.
I did not even have to go to that public school and put up with all those snot-nosed kids every day. She did that. She did all the work and then the money just got deposited in my account. How good is that? In so much greater of a capacity, what happens when you become a Christian is that Jesus' righteousness, his work becomes yours because your condemnation became his. That is the offer of the gospel. It is so much richer than what Nineveh heard about because it is not just the relenting of punishment.
It is the righteousness of God given to you as a gift to all who would receive it. Lastly, it was greater because of the character of the one bearing it. It was greater because of the surety of it. It was greater because of the richness of it.
It was greater lastly because of the character of the one bearing it. Jonah hated the Ninevites. He only went because God had forced him to.
Jesus could not have been more different. Jonah ran from his assignment. Jesus ran toward it. Jonah came only because he had to.
Jesus became because he wanted to. Jonah sat outside the city in hope for Nineveh's destruction. Jesus stood outside Jerusalem and wept and pleaded for her salvation. The only reason that Jonah delivered the message to Nineveh was to preserve his life, to save his life.
He knew that if he didn't, God would kill him. Jesus delivered his message even though it cost him his life. Jonah was thrown overboard into the sea because of his sin. Jesus was cast into the sea of God's wrath for our sin. Jonah was taken down into the depths of darkness for three days because of his disobedience. Jesus was taken into the darkness of death for three days for ours. Jonah was more upset about the death of a plant giving him shade than he was the destruction of Ninevite children. Jesus, Hebrews 12 two, gladly endured the pain of the cross for the joy that was set before him, which was the joy of making rebels into sons and daughters. Jonah showed up bearing only an announcement of condemnation.
Yet 40 days and Nineveh shall be overthrown. Jesus said, John 3 17, God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. Jesus did not come bearing a message of condemnation. He came bearing a message of salvation because he himself had become our condemnation so that in him we could escape condemnation and obtain the righteousness of Christ. When God's mercy was extended to Nineveh, Jonah wallowed in self-pity and cursed God.
Jesus depicted himself as a father who yearns for the return of his son so badly that he runs to meet him and forgives him and covers him with goodness and love and gifts before he could ever say I'm sorry. That's why we say Jesus is the truer and Jesus is the greater Jonah. Matthew 12 41, again, the men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it for they repented at the preaching of Jonah and behold something greater than Jonah is here. Can you imagine this scene at the judgment day when the men of Nineveh rise up and say this is all we had and we repented yet this is what you had and you did not repent. Will the men of Nineveh rise up in judgment against this generation? You have no excuse.
No excuse. You say well I need a sign from God. Again for most of you, you don't.
You know it's true. You just resist it. The problem is not that your head can't believe, it's that your heart doesn't want to believe.
If there's anything that postmodern philosophy taught us, it is that the head is informed by the heart, not the heart by the head. And what I mean by that is the reason we choose not to believe certain things is because we don't want to believe them. The problem for most of you, now there are a handful of you that are genuinely confused and again I would tell you my arms are open, this church is open for you to come and ask those questions but I'd say for a large part of you, all those things, those questions you keep bringing up, they're nothing but a smokescreen because you don't want to believe these things and you don't need a sign. What you need is to repent. The reason that most of us won't come to God is because of pride and idolatry.
Remember that verse I gave you as the core of the book of Jonah, Jonah 2 8? Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could have been theirs. What keeps you from God is idolatry. Something you've convinced yourself is weightier and more important than God. And the tragedy Jonah says is it makes you forfeit grace. Forfeit means it's yours for the taking, you just never get it. You don't say it's like having a million dollars in the bank credited to your account, you just never show up to take it.
There are many of you that are going to forfeit your soul, not because you couldn't be good enough to earn salvation, but because you turned your back in idolatry on the gift that God had given the grace, the way that he had paid it all. One of the strangest Supreme Court cases I've ever heard about, read about, 1833 United States versus George Wilson. There was a man named George Wilson who had committed several crimes.
He'd robbed a bank, he'd robbed a train, he'd robbed the postal service, and he was sentenced to life in prison. Andrew Jackson, the president at the time, extended him a full and complete pardon. And maybe it was because he'd had a genuine change of heart, maybe there was extenuating circumstances, we don't know, but he extended him a full and complete pardon.
But this is where the story gets interesting. George Wilson refused it. He said, I refuse to receive that pardon. We don't know why, he didn't tell us why, I mean, maybe he, you know, felt sorry for what he'd done, he didn't feel like he deserved to go free, you know, maybe he liked prison, I don't know, whatever. And the Supreme Court of the United States in 1833 made this statement, that a pardon is not valid unless the one to whom it is issued receives it. Now, I have no idea if they were reflecting on the Bible in that moment or not, but that is exactly what the Bible tells you about God's offer of salvation.
It is full, it is free, but it has to be received. And many of you forfeit the grace that could be yours in eternity. And the tragedy is, you're gonna die, and you are gonna suffer eternally for your sin, even though Jesus paid it all. In life, you are forfeiting a grace that could be yours. Because as I've explained to you, God created you for himself, he created you so that only his love would be that missing piece. Some of you have spent your whole life searching for that piece, haven't you? It's what you first look for from your parents. It's why that relationship is still so painful to you, because you were looking for a love from them that ultimately you were supposed to find in God.
They were just supposed to be the training wheels to teach you about God. They didn't do it, they failed you, but the love that you were looking for was not in them, it was in Christ. Then you started to look for it from your friends, but your friends could never be good enough friends to you.
They still can't be good enough friends to you. Then you look for it in romance, and you thought, if I could just find that person then my soul would finally find that thing that I've been looking for. It's not in romance. It's not in friends, it's not in career, it's not in your parents, it's in the love of God. You forfeit that because of idolatry. How many of you were still trying to invent a reason to live? Remember the day I was reading about people trying to make a legacy, I gotta leave a legacy, I gotta leave something for my kid, I gotta leave a legacy, I gotta leave a legacy, I gotta leave a legacy, I gotta leave a legacy, I gotta leave something for my kid, I gotta leave a legacy. Thank Jesus that he has freed me from this need to leave a legacy.
You wanna know why? Because just faithfulness to Jesus makes me a part of the greatest story ever told. I don't need you to remember me after I'm gone, why? Because Jesus remembers me, and I'm part of a story that's gonna last forever. So I'm freed from this silly kind of leave a legacy, find a purpose kind of thinking that most of us are obsessed with throughout our lives because in him I have a grace, I have a purpose that are mine because they were his and because they became mine in him.
Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. Now some of you, I know, listen I've done this long enough, some of you as I'm talking about this, this is what pops up in your mind right now. You might be like, I wish this were true. At one point in my life it could have been true, but I just can't believe this, it's not, I'm just too far gone. 10, 15 years ago I might have been able to do it, but the decisions I've made are too disastrous.
I've heard too many people, I've gone down way too far down this road, and I am entirely too messed up. Listen to me, God loved Nineveh. Idolatrous, unspeakably cruel, barbaric Nineveh. That in itself ought to be a sign to you that he loves and reaches out to you. God's pursuit of the Ninevites is proof that his grace stretches to you wherever you are. I know that in an audience this size, and in a church our size, I'm talking to adulterers, I'm talking to people who have been in prison, I'm talking to people who should have been in prison, I'm talking to people who have abused their children, I'm talking to people who have committed fraud, I'm talking to people who have done things that you would pray to God no one would ever find out about. And what I need to tell you is this, listen, God's ability to clean things up is infinitely greater than your ability to mess things up. Yes, your sin was great, God's grace was greater.
Yes, your corruption was devastating, God's grace is greater. That's why the symbol is so important. Sat cloth and ashes ought to be your symbol.
You have torn your life. It is nothing but ashes, but there is a greater symbol than Nineveh received, and that symbol is the symbol of baptism, which is, behold, I make all things new. I take the ashes of your destruction, and I raise them in new life. Romans 6, 3.
Those of us who are baptized, therefore, we are buried with him by baptism into death, that just like Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. So let me tell you how I want you to respond. There are many of you in this room that are just forfeiting the grace that could be yours. And my God, what a tragedy. I remember hearing a story.
I think I've shared this with you before, but let me tell you, but I think it just so perfectly captures what I'm trying to say to you right now. All right, here's a story. It was a true story. I can't remember exactly where I read it.
It might have been on the internet, which means it has to be true. But it was a story of a doctor by the name of Leo Winters who lived in Chicago, and he was a doctor who was a doctor who named Leo Winters who lived in Chicago. He was a famous surgeon in Chicago who had this reputation of being able to save people who were on the verge of death, kind of an EMT type of doctor that he worked in the emergency room. Well, he gets a call at his house about 2.30 in the morning, one morning, and a nurse at the end of the line says, you've got to come in because there's a little girl that's here that's been in a terrible accident, and she's going to die.
And you're the only doctor that is capable and able to save her life. And Dr. Winters said, okay, I'll be right in. He decided because of time to cut through a couple of neighborhoods in downtown Chicago that he normally wouldn't drive through. He pulled up to a stop sign in one of these neighborhoods, and all of a sudden the door of his BMW was jerked open, and a man reached in and grabbed him and drug him out of the car. Dr. Winters began to plead with this guy, began to say, look, no, I mean, please just, I'm trying. He tried to explain he's on his way to the hospital.
Guy wouldn't listen. He hopped in the car and took off. Dr. Winters' cell phone was in the car, so he couldn't make a call. He had to go find a pay phone, eventually found a pay phone, got ahold of the hospital. They sent somebody to get him. He gets there an hour and a half after he'd received the first call. He walks in. The nurse greets him at the door, and the nurse looks at him and just shakes her head, and she says, she died about 25 minutes ago. She said, but you really ought to go talk to the girl's dad because he is in the chapel, and he can't understand why he didn't come.
And according to the story, Dr. Winters walks down two or three floors, goes into the chapel, and walks into the chapel, and to his horror, there in that chapel is the man who had pulled him out of that car and stolen the car, and thereby sealed the fate of his daughter by taking out of the picture the only one who could have actually saved her. And when I read a story like that, when I think about that, I think about this kind of moment right here, where some of you have continued to resist, and you understand, or at least I hope you will understand, that what you're doing is you're forfeiting a God a God who is the only God who can save you. He's the missing piece. He is what you were created for.
He's what you've been looking for. You may not ever have realized that, but that's what you have been searching for, and you continue with pride and idolatry to keep out of your life the only one who can save you in eternity, and the only one who can save you in life. Why? Why do you continue to forfeit the grace that could be yours?
Why? Here's how you respond. Some of you need Jesus. You're not right with God. You've never received Him as your Savior, or at least you don't know for sure that you have, and you need to do that today. Or maybe you are wandering far from Jesus, and you need to come back to Him. It is time to stop running.
It's time. God brought you here to this moment at this time. You are beaten. You are bloodied.
You are bruised, and it is time to stop running. Have you ever received Him as your Savior? You can do that today. You're listening to Summit Life, the Bible teaching ministry of Pastor, Author, and Theologian J.D. Greer. If you put your trust in Jesus today or have questions about what it means to follow Him, please give us a call at 866-335-5220. We'd love the opportunity to pray with you. Today, Pastor J.D.
wrapped up our series in Jonah called Cast Away. But if you missed any of the messages in this series, you can find them all free of charge at jdgreer.com. Now, Pastor J.D., we know that the Bible is our foundation, the most important way that we hear from God. And I want to be able to recall scripture easily, but I am a little rusty on some of the memory verses that I learned as a kid. And I certainly always have the desire to know more scriptures by heart. Well, that's one of the reasons we're offering these verse cards this month. It's a very practical way.
I mean, sometimes we have big dreams, especially around the turn of the year. We're like, I'm going to memorize scripture. I memorize a whole book of the Bible, but you just like the tools to do it. These Summit Life memory verse cards make it easy for you to memorize scripture. They're actually very attractive. They're very well designed.
They have a little magnet so that you can put them on your refrigerator, switch them out, look at it. I remember one of the first big passages of scripture I memorized was John 1. And I memorized it while I was working on a doc loading a food lion distribution, taking food out to the different stores. And so I put John 1 up on the edge of the doc so that every time I drove by, which is probably 40 times an hour, taking this little forklift back and forth, I would see the next verse in John 1 and I would say it.
And it wasn't more than a week or two until I had essentially the whole chapter memorized. These are 50 verses that have been very impacting in my own life that we think will be a blessing to yours also. We would love to get you this tool. If you go to jdgreer.com, we can start that conversation. That's 866-335-5220.
Or go online and request them when you visit us at jdgreer.com. I'm Molly Bidevich inviting you to join us again next week when Pastor JD starts a brand new series titled First. The truth is you can have both God and money in your life, but you can't serve them both. One of them will be a first priority. So which is it for you? Be sure to tune in Monday to Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
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