Peace be with you!
A shout in a quiet street can startle us. The shout can be a call from a dear friend or a scream for help. It can disorient us from what we were thinking or doing. It can stop us in our tracks and make us do something unexpected.
John the Baptist is shouting in the wilderness, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 3:2 NRSV). The call to repent is a radical challenge, especially for the Jewish authorities who believe their ancestry gives them free tickets into heaven. John calls the Pharisees and the Sadducees to repent of their sins and to go out into the world doing good deeds (Matthew 3:7, 10). There is no difference between Jews and Gentiles when the one who comes after John the Baptist enters the world. The Pharisees and the Sadducees can no longer hide in the temple and in their homes. They have to go out and share God’s love with others. John challenges the Pharisees and the Sadducees to let go of their superior attitudes and express their faith in the Lord through their good deeds towards others.
John challenges us to repent by turning away from our old lives of sins to a new life with Jesus Christ. Repentance causes us to turn toward the Lord and to do good works for his honor, not our own. Our old ways yield to new ways of living with Jesus Christ in our lives. It is no longer good enough to check things off a list. We have to show the Lord we want to live according to his will.
The repentance challenge forces us to exclaim how we live out our faith every day. It forces us to look for ways to express God’s love for the world by loving our neighbor. We cannot walk past the man outside Wal-Mart without giving some of our loose change so he can eat today. We cannot ignore the family in church or at our children’s school who never has clean clothes; we can help them. We can no longer walk around doing nothing. We have to do something. Once we repent our life changes because we live for God.
John the Baptist is shouting on the street corner, in the park, in the diner, or [wherever “it” is] you are right now, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 3:2 NRSV). The kingdom of heaven is near. It is coming to us soon. Are you ready? Have you repented? Are you doing God’s will? Now is the time to make changes in your life and to enjoy eternal life with God the Father. Soon someone greater than John the Baptist will enter the world, someone who will be able to look into the depths of your soul and know you (Matthew 3:12). He will judge you based on your heart and your deeds. He will cast down those who go through life without caring for others, and he will lift up those who love their neighbors. Be ready for his entrance into the world.
Come, O Lord, come!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for sending John the Baptist to call us to repent. Help us to turn away from our old ways to live according to your ways. Lead us to lift up your name through our good deeds. Thank you for bringing the kingdom near to us. Amen.
Thanks to the Triune God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the behavior covenant by commenting on it.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
- How do you repent daily?
- How and when do you call others to repent?
- How do you express God’s love to others?