I’ll never forget David. I met him one morning before our worship service. He made it very clear that he wasn’t comfortable visiting our church. In fact, this was the first time he had set foot in a church, period. After the service, he pulled me aside and made a hesitant comment about my sermon on Jonah that I will never forget. He said, “The gospel you preached just seems too good to be true. If you knew me, you would understand why.” I simply responded, “David, it may seem that way, but let me assure you, it is true.”
He returned the next week and the next. A month later, he walked into my office with tears streaming down his face and earnestly called out to God for salvation. David had come to realize the depth of his sin, and experienced the overwhelming grace of God in Christ.
The message of God in the book of Jonah is a message of grace. In chapter 3, Nineveh’s evil had come up before God. It was in the depth of their depravity that the Ninevites were met with the eternally significant words of the prophet: Repent, or God will destroy this city! This may not seem like a message of grace. But we have to remember, every warning before final judgment is an act of mercy.
It is simply astonishing that, in response to Jonah’s call for repentance, the people of Nineveh believed God. In fact, the entire city put on a fast and covered themselves in sackcloth, expressing grief, humility, and remorse.
As Christians, we can become so familiar with God’s grace that we lose sight of how amazing it is. The city of Nineveh was notorious in the ancient world for their wickedness. Of the city, the prophet Nahum declared, “Woe to the city of blood, totally deceitful, full of plunder, never without prey” (Nahum 3:1). By all self-righteous standards, Nineveh was the least deserving of God’s grace. But this narrative reminds us that it doesn’t matter if you are a Ninevite or my friend David; the grace of God is not deserved. That is what makes it grace.
Everyone can call out earnestly to God. In fact, everyone must call out earnestly to God. We are all great sinners, but thanks be to God, Christ is a great Savior. It’s true when you come to terms with the deep depravity of your heart, the gospel may seem too good to be true. But it is true. Let us never lose sight of the power of the gospel.
Written by Matt Capps