The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at Jonah’s proclamation; and look—something greater than Jonah is here!Matthew 12:41 (HCSB)
Jesus tells the people around Him who refuse to believe that He is Lord, God, and Saviour that they will regret that decision at the final judgement. When Jonah proclaimed his five-word sermon, countless people listened and took it to heart—they repented. Jesus is far greater than Jonah, and yet countless people refuse to listen to Him and repent! This should humble us and make us consider the role of human effort in evangelisation.
All too often, Christians believe in ‘Harry Potter Apologetics.’ That is to say, we seem to believe that, if only we say the right words in the right order at the right time with the perfect tone and inflection, then a person will accept Jesus. If we just work on our ‘sales pitch’ a bit more, we will nail it! I was always amazed in Oxford at the numbers of people who went up for prayer or to accept Jesus after a sermon. One of the preachers was always so fantastic that he is considered one of the greatest preachers in the world (he was even included in a book on the best preachers around today and what makes them great). His sermons were fantastic, concise, clever, witty, engaging, convicting, and very memorable. Yet, though many went forward for prayer and countless have been brought to Christ through his ministry, there was another minister who drew forward many, many, more. The sermons of this man were, well, unpredictable. Some were so long and rambling that you would get lost in the different points and sub-points. It seemed at times as if he was just making it up as he went along. At other times it seemed as if this man had slightly addled his brain at some point in the past! Yet God blessed his ministry mightily.
If Jesus was God it follows that His ‘sales pitch’ was always perfect. Every word, every cadence, every pause, was flawless. Yet those Jesus preached to crucified Him! We need to get away from Harry Potter Apologetics and instead rely on prayer and faith. Sure, God can and does use human effort—He gifts and provides the foundations of it. But it always comes down to God and not to us. That is something, I personally, am very thankful for!