John the Baptist preached repentance to the crowds. When the Pharisees and Sadducees came to hear him, he taught that repentance requires a response. It is not enough to claim an identity with God--God desires a commitment to him that originates in a changed and transformed life.
Jesus began his public ministry with a simple sermon: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." But the simplicity masks a more complex message. Jesus' sermon rises out of his Jewish culture and speaks about himself as Israel's King, the one who calls God's people back to God.
His message is repentance--to turn back to God with complete loyalty to him in his kingdom. "Repentance" is a word that is danger for us. Some people misunderstand it as only a call to feel remorse for sin. But for Jesus, it's a loyalty-check: Who or what are you committed to?
This is why he follows his sermon by calling disciples. The response he wants is repentance. But how is repentance seen? It is not seen by disciples feeling sorry for what they did and promising to do better, but by disciples giving up everything, leaving businesses and work and family behind, in order to follow Jesus.
Repentance is following. Follow Jesus.
Repentance is an elusive topic many of us struggle to understand. Although we often view repentance as a feeling, Jesus teaches us that repentance is about choosing him and bearing fruit (good deeds) for others. In this sermon, learn 5 different ways of understanding repentance and be drawn closer to God as a result.
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