10When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. 1But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry.
50And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. 51At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.
So what do these verses have in common? Well that’s a good question, and it’s a question with a simple answer. Everyone fits into God’s kingdom. Let me explain, starting with Jonah:
So looking at the verses above, you need some context behind them, right? Well here it is: Jonah was sent to Nineveh to warn the Ninevites that they will be overthrown for their wicked ways. Well in Jonah’s mind, he expects destruction. If you’ve ever heard the story of Jonah, he goes through a lot of bad stuff on his way to Nineveh, even trying to avoid it completely, but he gets thrown off a ship, swallowed by a fish, and he ends up in Nineveh anyways. So in Jonah’s mind, he’s thinking: “Well God, you wanted me to send this message, then fine, I’ll do it.” So Jonah tells them about their coming doom, and his mission is complete. But not so fast, the story doesn’t end there. Jonah expected the Ninevites to get their just desserts, and suffer for their wickedness, but they REPENT instead, then call upon God and fast. Suffice to say, this was not the ending Jonah expected, because he wanted his enemies to perish. But God doesn’t work like that, he wouldn’t pass up on an oppurtunity to change the hearts of the wicked.
So now what does that have to do with the verses in Matthew? Well let us dive right into it then shall we?
The verses above in Matthew, are the verses before and after Jesus’ death on the cross. Jesus lets out one last cry, then gave up his spirit (let’s just stop and appreciate that sentence: Jesus gave up his spirit. No one got the drop on him, or overcame Jesus, he gave up his spirit as an offering, of his own consent. Really cool. Anyways back to the discussion). Then what happens after is a very symbolic picture of hope, when the temple’s veil is torn. What’s so special about that? Well, there is a place in the temple where God’s presence is, and only a special person could be there, and only once a year, and only after ceremonial cleansing and preparations. Some very strict rules, which makes this temple very exclusive. So the phrase: the temple veil was torn in two, is saying we don’t need a special person to be in God’s presence, we can all experience it. It’s a symbol that the old ways are gone, and Jesus opens up the way for anyone to accept God as their savior.
Now here’s my conclusion: these two segments of scripture go hand in hand, both playing off the fact that God is accepting. It’s a lesson that we as Christians can learn too: don’t hold back the good news from your enemies. It’s tough, because you might look at someone who’s rude to you, or who isn’t a Christian, and think shunning them and rejecting them is the right thing. It’s not. God’s kingdom isn’t an exclusive club, so don’t tell yourself someone isn’t good enough for God because of their wicked actions or ways. And in the same way, don’t ever tell yourself that you aren’t good enough for God’s kingdom. He let the Ninevite’s enter, he let the gentiles enter, he even let Paul enter. He’ll let you in too, because NO ONE is left out.