Our capacity to trust in the Lord increases as we shift from seeing Him as “less than” to experiencing Him as “greater than” anything we face. Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth was bound by less than thinking when it came to Jesus. Not only did they refuse to call Him the Son of God or refer to Him as a prophet, they didn’t even honor Him as a rabbi. He was known as merely “the carpenter’s son.”
At one point, Jesus addressed this less than perspective by telling them who He really is (Matthew 12). He began by stating that He is “greater than Jonah.” In fact He said that at the judgment, the people of Ninevah would stand and call Nazareth condemned. The people of Ninevah believed Jonah, yet you don’t believe the One who is greater than Jonah.
I’ll admit that Jonah is not one of my favorite Bible characters. He was a coward, a racist, and an irritating whiner. When God directs him to go on a mission to Ninevah, he books a cruise in the opposite direction! Jonah’s disobedience endangers the entire ship’s crew. Jonah’s next “brave” move was to commit seaside suicide by volunteering to be thrown overboard. But then God, in His compassion, sends a “great fish” to rescue him from the bottom of the ocean. After he’s burped aground on the shore of an isolated desert island, God causes a gourd to grow a large leafy umbrella over Jonah, protecting him from the sun (and sparing his life yet again). When the gourd withers, more whining ensues. Finally Jonah makes his way to Ninevah. He begrudgingly warns them to repent, although his heart is still not aligned with God’s redemptive purposes. He then takes a front row seat on the hillside overlooking Ninevah and, box of popcorn in hand, awaits the fireworks of God’s judgment to annihilate the city. Much to his chagrin the entire population repents! Even the animals repent! It’s an amazing revival. Think about it: Jonah delivered a half-hearted message to a people he didn’t care about, and everybody got right with God!
Jesus said, “I’m greater than Jonah.” Why? “Because I love. I care. I lay down My life for the whole world! I can transform your life and turn your family around. And your neighborhood. And your city. In fact, I can transform entire nations. Whatever your situation—I can do this!”
Don’t you think it’s time we see Jesus as “greater” than rather than “less” than? When we believe we are “less” than the circumstances, we’re living like victims. And when we believe God is “less” than our situations, we live powerlessly. When we’re more in awe of what’s happening around us than Who is over us, defeat is inevitable. So, let’s rest confidently in knowing He is greater than. Always.
Blog Contributor: Pastor Dave Hess