Wednesday, November 18
Scripture: Matthew 1-4
Matthew 3:1–2 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
Matthew 4:17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
Both John the Baptist and Jesus came with the same message: “Repent for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Repentance continued to be a central element in the gospel proclamation. After His resurrection, Jesus sent His disciples to proclaim “repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 24:46-47). On the day of Pentecost, Peter told people to “repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). The call to repent was part of the apostle Peter’s preaching to the Jews (Acts 3:19), and part of the apostle Paul’s preaching to the Gentiles (Acts 26:20).
What does it mean to repent? The Greek word literally means “a change of mind,” and with that, a change of behavior and life. A.C. Myers wrote, “true repentance means a complete and irrevocable about-face from the past to a future shaped by the demands of God’s reign.” I turn from my sin and selfishness toward God. I turn from me as Lord to Jesus as Lord.
First, we don’t talk about repentance enough. It needs to be a central part of our call to follow Jesus, our call to discipleship and spiritual formation. Without repentance, there is no change, no discipleship. We just paste Jesus over our old life and keep going the same way. That’s not real discipleship. We need to call people to repentance—to change their mind, behavior and the direction of their lives…to follow Jesus as Lord.
Second, repentance is not just an initial act but a lifestyle. We continue to repent, to change, to turn. Sometimes it’s a big change, sometimes a small adjustment. Think of driving. Sometimes I have to do a U-turn if I’m going the wrong way. Often I simply make tiny adjustments to stay in my lane.
I can’t start following Jesus without repentance. I can’t keep following Jesus day to day without repentance.
Prayer: Lord, show me what needs to change, where I need to turn or adjust. Help me repent!