Repentance   Leave a comment

Repentance

Repentance

This man’s clothes were made out of camel’s hair, he wore a leather belt, ate wild honey and locust. He was a strange man to many. This young man lived in the wilderness, away from people(Luke 1:80) and urged people to repent. He was called John also known as The Baptist. He was surnamed The Baptist because he baptised people who wanted to repent of their sins.

John’s clothes were made out of camel’s hair. He had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all of Judea. They also came from the whole area around the Jordan River. When they admitted they had sinned, John baptized them in the Jordan.”

The Greek word used for “admitted they had sinned” is exomologeo which means to declare freely and publicly one’s sin. This is what the context suggest because so many walked to come to a desert place to confess publicly their sins. Who enjoys to know that everyone knows his/her secret sins? History has much to say about people who assassinated someone who knew their bad deeds. Here I guess there were adulterers, robbers and even people who were not that bad who confessed their sins.

I don’t think people found it amusing to tell publicly all their sins. John would not have used his belt against them if they did not want to repent. What was happening on was no joke either. Could you imagine if the one you robbed was there? People realised and confessed they were sinners. Repentance is something between man and God and it was not a prerequisite to make it public. By confessing publicy, they were humbled before man and God. They did it because they were sincere. Near the Jordan river people had a contrived heart and did not care what other people thought. John was just a messenger telling them that they were sinners and needed to take a decision to stop living in a sinful way. I’m sure many refused to turn away from their iniquities because they cherished their sins (e.g. sexual immorality, love of money etc). Those who choose to continue living in debauchery or make a U turn heard the same message of repentance. When someone genuinely repents, he does not hide his sins towards God. He does not justify himself or blame someone else. I don’t see it prideful when someone says publicly that he was a sinner and want to change. Do you?

Have you ever hurt someone or did something you regret bitterly and wished you could repair it? I guess these people who came to repent were genuinely trying to get right with God. It was not just a one day decision where they came to seek forgiveness. It was genuine repentance. It was a radical life change till death.

The word repentance comes from the Greek word Μετανοειτε(metanoeo,metanoia), which means changing one’s perception after reflection. It’s one own choice, you think and understand what that means and implies. In the Old Testament, washing oneself in water cleanse oneself for priesthood services.

Here it was not the body or clothes which were being cleanse.  At the Jordan river, it was the symbol of a decision. It was an outward act of repentance. Repentance starts when someone acknowledges that he is a sinner and is ready to do whatever is needed to be right with God. A husband can wear a ring but can still be unfaithful to his wife. One can take water baptism but still have an unrepentant heart. A ring or water baptism is just a symbol of a decision. A ring does not make someone a husband or wife, it just shows that this person is engaged.  My father does not wear his ring because it no longer fits in his finger, but that does not mean that he’s no longer married and does not love my mother. Water baptism does not make someone a Christian either.

OK. So let’s come to the crux.

John saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing. He said to them, “You are like a nest of poisonous snakes! Who warned you to escape the coming of God’s anger? Produce fruit that shows you have turned away from your sins. Don’t think you can say to yourselves, ‘Abraham is our father.’ I tell you, God can raise up children for Abraham even from these stones.  The ax is already lying at the roots of the trees. All the trees that don’t produce good fruit will be cut down. They will be thrown into the fire.”

Ouch! John was not kind with the Pharisees and Sadducees(religious leaders). Was it some side effects of eating wild honey? How could John dare rebuking them? He did not have a PhD or went to the same theological school as these religious leaders. “You gotta repent you poisonous snakes! Or you’re going to hell!”, this was his message when he saw these unrepentant hearts. Our friend the Baptist did not mince his words. If you think John was too hard with them, Jesus’s curses on them are even harder (Matthew 23). These religious leaders wore white clothes and gave people the impression they were pious people but on the inside they were evil. God does not look on the outside but on the inside. Nothing is hidden to him.

Whether you like it or not, sin is a serious problem. Sin keeps you blind and in slavery and it requires divine wisdom to unveil your eyes and see how miserable you are. You may have the will to stop sinning but cannot.

John the Baptist cursed the religious leaders severely so this implied that they were not to be followed. So who should these repentant hearts follow? John clearly said that the new leader was the Messiah. John was pointing them to Jesus who could free them totally from sin. When Jesus came, John started to step down(John 3:30).

How can we know that someone genuinely repented? The answer is to look at their fruits. If someone really decided to change his life, it must be visible on the outside. Listen him speaking and look at his actions. Whether someone is watching him or not this person has taken the decision to follow Christ.

Jesus preached repentance. If someone wants to repent, He is implying that he wants Jesus to lead his life. He wants Jesus to expose his sins. He wants Jesus to change him.

There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.

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Posted April 29, 2012 by Cedric in Theology

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