|Duccio di Buoninsegna (d. 1319)|
The Calling of the Apostles Peter and Andrew (1308/1311)
National Gallery of Art
The Shortest Sermon in the Book
The shortest sermon in the Book,
Five Hebrew words is all it took
To turn huge Nineveh around;
We know its size, for on the ground
A three-day's walk is sixty miles!
And thus the author makes us smile
To see how little Jonah said
To turn the whole place on its head.
With Jesus, "Son," "Beloved" named,
In Galilee, he then proclaimed
Good news; and with a scant nine words,
In Simon and in Andrew stirred
A calling deep - and so profound,
They left their nets without a sound;
Next, James and John could not resist
In heaven's cause then to enlist.
The Faithful One who ever seeks
Will come to those who hear, and speak.
Apparently, the sermon's length
Cannot predict the preacher's strength;
The anecdotes and wisdom deep,
From files and web that preachers reap,
Can hardly substitute for when
God would our lives begin again.
Scott L. Barton
[Note: Here are the Hebrew and Greek words in Jonah 3:4 and Mark 1:17 spoken by Jonah and Jesus:
עוֹד אַרְבָּעִים יוֹם, וְנִינְוֵה נֶהְפָּכֶת
Δεῦτε ὀπίσω μου, καὶ ποιήσω ὑμᾶς γενέσθαι ἁλιεῖς ἀνθρώπων]
The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, ‘Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.’ So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, ‘Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!’ And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.
[When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. Then he had a proclamation made in Nineveh: ‘By the decree of the king and his nobles: No human being or animal, no herd or flock, shall taste anything. They shall not feed, nor shall they drink water. Human beings and animals shall be covered with sackcloth, and they shall cry mightily to God. All shall turn from their evil ways and from the violence that is in their hands. Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish.’]
When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’
As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’ And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.