Audio Sermon “God's Miniature”

Oct 9, 2017
“God's Miniature" No.10 by Rev. Toru Asai
Mat 26:36-46, John 8:36, etc.

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Eph 5:1-2)

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You have heard that it was said, "Love your neighbor and hate your enemy." But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven (Mat 5:43-45).

We all think that it is normal and reasonable to love those who love us, and hate those who harm and hurt us. However, while the command, "love your neighbor," is found in Lev 19:18, the second one, "hate your enemy," is not found anywhere in the Law. Instead, the following is our Father's will:

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (v. 45).

But the following is what is normally seen in this world:

If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? (vv. 46-47).

So, the conclusion is:

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect (v. 48).

Hatred is from Satan, and those who hate are his slaves. If you are a Christian and have hatred inside, you are a self-conflicted person having two desires that disagree with each other. Since hatred is deeply rooted in people's heart, it cannot be seen unless it is agitated to manifest itself as seen in the case of the Pharisees in John 8. This is exactly the problem that the story of Jonah deals with as its theme. Prophet Jonah was told by the Lord to go and speak against the city of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire, which later would come to destroy the northern kingdom of Israel and its capital Samaria in 722 B.C. Knowing what was going to happen, Jonah refused to go to Nineveh.

But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, … he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD (Jonah 1:3).

The expressions, "Jonah ran away from the Lord," and also "to flee from the Lord," indicate that he intentionally disobeyed the Lord's command knowing that he was wrong. Then, the Lord brought a big storm, and Jonah was thrown into the sea. Yet, the Lord forgave him and saved him by providing a big fish who vomited him onto the shore. Interestingly, Jesus said, speaking of his death and resurrection:

For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth (Mat 12:40).

Considering the reason why Jonah was thrown into the sea, we can say that Jesus, too, was put to death and thrown into hell for the same reason: yet, of course, in his case, not for his own rebellion, but for our rebellions. Seeing how God forgave the people of Nineveh, Jonah became so angry because he could not give up his own desire. He came out of the city and went east of it and sat down waiting to see it destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah. An interesting analogy is found between what Jonah did there and what Jesus experienced in Gethsemane. What Jesus suffered there was to redeem us from the same problem we have as Jonah had and the disciples also had that time. The following words indicate that it was God's own, or Jesus' own decision that forgiveness was given to them or to us:

But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city (Jonah 4:10-11)?

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing (Luke 23:34).

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