"...at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here." Luke 11:32b
What does it mean to repent? Many people think that by saying they're sorry, the issue should be closed. I said it, so that should end it. Not exactly. Because sometimes we say we're sorry for the wrong reasons. We got caught. We don't want someone to think poorly of us. We want the "bad" situation to be done and over with, so just say "sorry". To try to lessen the uncomfortable feelings that come with whatever we have said or done.
The right reason--and true repentance--is saying, "I'm sorry" with a heart that longs to change. To have a true desire to never do the wrong again. To undo the damage as best we can...to make amends. To restore relationship.
The story of Jonah is full of comparisons between Jonah and the people of Ninevah. Most people know the story: God called Jonah to preach in Ninevah. Jonah ran the other way. Fish swallowed Jonah. Jonah said he was sorry for disobeying. Fish spit out Jonah. Jonah preached. The citizens of Ninevah repented in sackcloth and ashes. God spared them from His judgment. Jonah pouted! So was Jonah really and truly sorry for not having gone in the first place? I'm not sure. It seems that he almost hoped they would NOT repent, so he could see God bring some type of disaster upon Ninevah and punish them.
Amazing, isn't it, that Jesus uses those same Ninevites to show His own greatness? If those wicked people could repent at the preaching of the reluctant prophet, how much more should the people of Jesus' day repent at the preaching of the Son of God? Wow.
And this is where we stand today. If a wave of repentance could sweep through the populace of Ninevah, what is stopping us from bowing our heads and hearts and allowing the Holy Spirit to sweep us clean?
Today is the day of salvation. Today is the day of grace. Let us respond with hearts ready for change!