“Making a Complete Reversal”
(Jonah 3:1-5, 10; Mark 1:14-20)
The connecting theme of our reading today, among other things, is repentance. The English word repentance and conversion are cognates. And the Greek word is metanoia. “Meta” means “change” and “noia” means “mind”. So, “metanoia” means a “change of mind”. To repent, therefore, means to make a complete reversal of thinking or to change mind.
First, we have the story of Jonah in the city of Nineveh. Whenever we hear the story, we think of the repentance of the people of Nineveh, that they heard Jonah’s warning and repented and God forgave them. In this story, we see three reversals or changes of mind. The people of Nineveh changed their mind; God changed God’s mind; and Jonah, of course, was given an opportunity to change his mind toward his “enemies” but refused to do so.
The change of mind among the Ninevites led to the change of God’s mind. The people repented, and God decided not to destroy them. Does God change? Do our actions compel God to change God’s mind? Finally, the book of Jonah is revolutionary, because it challenges the status quo theologically. We read of an inclusive God who forces Jonah/the Jews to be tolerant, gracious and inclusive toward their perceived enemies. A change of mind leads to a change of attitude and action.
Tezenlo Thong, Pastor
Simpson United Methodist Church