On the Judgment Day the people of Nineveh will stand up and accuse you, because they turned from their sins when they heard Jonah preach; and I tell you that there is something here greater than Jonah! On the Judgment Day the Queen of Sheba will stand up and accuse you, because she traveled all the way from her country to listen to King Solomon’s wise teaching; and I assure you that there is something here greater than Solomon!
What do you imagine when you think of Judgment Day. I’ve always imagined something like that Catholic commercial on TV where the person watches their life unfold on a movie screen and God is asking me questions about why I didn’t do certain things, and maybe giving me a little pat on the head now and then when I got it right. Right, wrong, or whatever – I’ve always imagined a conversation with God. Maybe Jesus would be there, too.
Now, when I read this scripture, I get a very different picture. For the first time I consider the possibility that there’s a whole crowd of people providing their input. First, there is a whole city – the people of Nineveh. Yesterday we learned that there were 120,000 children, so perhaps 200,000 of them altogether. And then, there’s the Queen of Sheba. What is she doing there? Holy smokes the Queen of Sheba is going to be yelling at me. And if all those folks are involved, imagine who else might be there throwing in their evaluation of my performance. Millions perhaps. All critiquing me.
So for those who think that only Christians go to heaven, it looks like they might want to rethink that. Perhaps some of those 200,000 people from Nineveh might have converted to Judaism because of Jonah, but they certainly weren’t Christians. There weren’t any Christians back then. And what about the Queen of Sheba? What the heck. She was definitely neither a Jew nor a Christian. One cannot help but infer from this that the standards for heaven are pretty lax when it comes to adherence to a particular religion or creed.
The Queen of Sheba accusing me! Wow. I wonder if she’s watching me right now and making up her list of things she wants to talk to me about. And then add a multitude of people up there doing the same thing. People worry about the NSA violating their their privacy, but according to Jesus there are a whole lot of people doing a whole lot of watching! Geez, it’s heaven. You think she’d have something better to do with her time than sitting around critiquing little old me.
All right. I’ve had my fun. Jesus is telling a group of teachers of the Law and Pharisees who have just asked him for a miracle that they can’t even see what’s going on in front of them. He says there are miracles going on all over the place. People are being moved by God like Jonah. People are repenting like those from Nineveh. Jesus is sharing wisdom greater than that which King Solomon shared with the Queen of Sheba. He chastises them for their indifference to what God is doing. He’s saying they wouldn’t know a miracle if it bit them on the behind. You know the old saying – “For the truly faithful, no miracle is necessary but for those who doubt, no miracle is sufficient.” They probably didn’t really want a miracle anyway. They probably just wanted to see if Jesus would submit to their authority. Of course he would never to that. He was obedient only to God.
So I’m ending with one of those great old anonymous poems that I think is pretty appropriate given that Queen of Sheba comment:
The Shock Upon Entering Heaven
I was shocked, confused, bewildered as I entered Heaven’s door,
Not by the beauty of it all, by the lights or its decor.
But it was the folks in Heaven who made me sputter and gasp–
the thieves, the liars, the sinners, the alcoholics, the trash.
There stood the kid from seventh grade who swiped my lunch money twice.
Next to him was my old neighbor who never said anything nice.
Herb, who I always thought was rotting away in hell,
was sitting pretty on cloud nine, looking incredibly well.
I nudged Jesus, “What’s the deal? I would love to hear your take.
How’d all these sinners get up here? God must’ve made a mistake.
And why’s everyone so quiet, so somber? Give me a clue.”
“Hush child,” said He “They’re all in shock. No one thought they’d see you.”
What does this scripture say to you?