May 21, 2017

Adult Bible Study Online

A current connection to each week's session

God’s Love for Nineveh
Jonah 3

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The act of Jesus washing the disciples' feet in John 13:1-5 is followed by a dialogue between Jesus and Peter (13:6-11) and indicates a first reality. Washing evokes our continual need for cleansing as we walk in this world, the necessity of constant conversion. In this concrete sign of cleansing water, grace becomes touchable, tangible and mediated to us through another. [1]

Foot washing was a new concept for me when I first visited Plains Mennonite Church. But the Lord has been talking to me, and with all of my heart I have participated in the foot washing numerous times. Foot washing taught me to humble myself with my neighbor and other brothers and sisters in order to show the love of Christ. It helped me in my spiritual journey, my ministry with our Penn Bible Fellowship (PBF) community, and in India when we work with rural pastors, evangelists, and Christian workers. God used foot washing to help me grow in leading and serving with joy and peace in the midst of unexpected situations. God honored it.

In the same way, Jonah prayed from the belly of the fish, after his near-death experience (2:3), and God honored his change of heart. The great fish listened to God and vomited Jonah onto the dry ground (2:10). Jonah’s mission was in the great city of Nineveh (3:2) even as Saint Paul’s mission was in the great cities of Asia Minor, Macedonia, Greece, and Achaia. Jonah’s ministry was focused not only on people (men, women, young, and old) but also the animal kingdom. God loves all creation! Even the animals participated in the acts of repentance, fasting, and sackcloth. Of course, the people repented as well, “everyone, great and small” (3:5 NRSV). The king down to the servant put on sackcloth.

The people were the violent and disobedient ones, but the word of God penetrates the soul and spirit like a double-edged sword. The holy word of God transforms and convicts sinners and brings them from darkness to the “Living Light.” God saw Nineveh’s sincerity, obedience, and fear and heard their prayer with an “everlasting love.”

Today, you are important in God’s kingdom and vineyard. God sends and replicates his love through you wherever you go. Through one man’s (Jonah) proclamation and service (3:4) the people of Nineveh and Jonah himself responded with repentance. When people repent, God enters the door and lives in the sinner’s heart. Governed by love, God relented and did not send the promised destruction. God is love.

  • When have you felt shy in sharing and proclaiming God’s Word and Jesus?
  • How are you responding to Jesus’ great commission?
  • Are we listening to God’s gentle voice in the midst of the loud voices in our world today? What might God’s voice be saying to us as Jesus’ believers and community?

—Paulus Thalathoti,

© 2017

1. Linda Oyer, “Washing Real Feet,” Mennonite Mission Network, April 12, 2017.

Paulus Thalathoti is an ordained minister and the founding president of Peace Proclamation Ministries, an evangelistic and church planting ministry with those living in the interior rural areas of India. Dr. Thalathoti also serves as chairperson for Penn Bible Fellowship in Hatfield, Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Sumatha, are mission associates with Mennonite Mission Network and members of Plains Mennonite Church, Hatfield, Pennsylvania.

This article supplements Adult Bible Study, a quarterly Bible curriculum for adults. Adult Bible Study provides in-depth, challenging Bible study from an Anabaptist-Mennonite perspective, written by an intercultural group of pastors, teachers, professors, and leaders across Canada and the United States. Sessions include daily Bible readings, resources for additional study, and free downloadable resources.

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