Today we are going to take a look at the first step every person must take in their walk with God: repentance. The commission of the Church to preach a message of repentance. This sermon gives a brief look at what repentance is, what Jesus taught about repentance, and who the message of repentance is for.
This is the time of year when we start thinking about and preparing for the upcoming Passover.
The Passover is a time of remembrance “do this in remembrance of me”
It’s a that tends to bring on memories of first things… of repentance, of a dawning faith in God, of baptism and remission of sins. The first steps in God’s plan to bring many into glory, into His family, and a place in His kingdom.
Today we are going to take a look at the first step every person must take in their walk with God… repentance.
- The commission of the Church to preach a message of repentance
- A brief look at what repentance is
- What Jesus taught about repentance
- Who is the message of repentance for
John the Baptist was man quite literally “on a mission from God”
Luke 1:17 Luke 1:17And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
American King James Version× – make ready a people
Luke 1:76-80 Luke 1:76-80  And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Highest: for you shall go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
 To give knowledge of salvation to his people by the remission of their sins,
 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high has visited us,
 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his showing to Israel.
American King James Version×. – to give knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of sins.
Luke 3:4-6 Luke 3:4-6  As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth;
 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
American King James Version× John was sent before Jesus to announce His coming
Luke 3:2 Luke 3:2Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.
American King James Version×, 7-16 How did John go about preparing the way? à He preached a message of repentance
Luke 4:18-19 Luke 4:18-19  The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
American King James Version×, 32 Jesus begins His ministry and begins to preach the coming Kingdom of God.
Jesus goes around the countryside casting out demons as a demonstration of His superior authority over the current ruler of the world, healing the sick to demonstrate His power over physical creation, feeding the hungry to show Himself as the provider, preaching a message of comfort to the poor, forgiveness and inclusion to the outcast and the sinners… and people love it. People start following Him around and by the time He is ready to take His final journey to Jerusalem huge crowds numbering in the tens of thousands coming to hear.
Luke 10:13 Luke 10:13Woe to you, Chorazin! woe to you, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.
American King James Version×It is time for the King to begin His final fateful journey to the city of Jerusalem
As with John Jesus sends out 70 disciples in advance of His coming – to announce and proclaim the coming of the kingdom of God (in the person of the King Himself)... but at the same time He expected repentance.
A message of repentance is part of the proclamation of the good news about the soon coming Kingdom of God. In a nutshell “the King is coming, so repent and make yourselves ready”. Luke 12:35-37 Luke 12:35-37  Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;
 And you yourselves like to men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he comes and knocks, they may open to him immediately.
 Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he comes shall find watching: truly I say to you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.
American King James Version×.
Jesus is King and like a King messengers and heralds are sent out in advance of his arrival so that people will be prepared to receive Him and to greet him appropriately. That job that began with John has been passed on to the Church. To proclaim the coming of the King so that people may prepare themselves for His coming.
A message of repentance is part of the Church’s commission
Luke 24:46-47 Luke 24:46-47  And said to them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
American King James Version× states the commission of the church differently that Matthew. The emphasis here is on repentance.
Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
American King James Version× – as a precursor to baptism, and the receipt of the Holy Spirit
Acts 3:19 Acts 3:19Repent you therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
American King James Version× – as the beginning of a process that leads to conversion and forgiveness of sins
Acts 11:18 Acts 11:18When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then has God also to the Gentiles granted repentance to life.
American King James Version× – to the Gentiles “the whole world”
Acts 26:20 Acts 26:20But showed first to them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
American King James Version×– the kingdom is coming so repent
What is Repentance? A change of mind and attitude
In the original language the word used is metanoeo which means a change of mind and purpose, conviction a change in attitude – towards God, His law, His plan for you, His kingdom etc.
Technically repentance is not the same thing as the actual acts of righteousness or conversion itself… John told them to “produce fruit worthy of repentance”, likewise Paul said wanted people to “repent, turn to God and do works befitting of repentance”. If repentance is real there is an expectation that it will lead to a change in behavior or conversion – but they are not the same thing. You might say you show your repentance through your deeds.
2 Timothy 2:25 2 Timothy 2:25In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
American King James Version× – repentance leads to acceptance of the truth
Accepting the theory of gravity – accepting love as the reality of the universe
Romans 2:4 Romans 2:4Or despise you the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
American King James Version× – signifies a change from hardness of heart Exodus 5:2 Exodus 5:2And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.
American King James Version×
2 Peter 3:3-9 2 Peter 3:3-9  Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved to fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
American King James Version× – God is patient, He wants us to come to our senses so we might live
Repentance means we accept that God is who He says He is. That He is our creator and we are beings He has created. That what He is telling us is true. And that we need to act on what He tells us. Easy to say… hard to do.
Let’s take a look at Jesus teachings on repentance:
Luke 5:32 Luke 5:32I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
American King James Version× – First there is a very obvious outreach to people who were just plain law-breakers (ie sinners). Prostitutes, extortioners, etc. He tells them their sins were be forgiven and instructs them to clean up their act and sin no more. And with regard to acts worthy of repentance He regularly pointed people to the written word of God as their guide in such matters. Luke 10:25-26 Luke 10:25-26  And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?  He said to him, What is written in the law? how read you?
American King James Version×(see also 18:18-22), 11:28, 32 (I am who I say I am)
Second there was an obvious reproach and call to repentance or change of attitude for those who considered themselves to be diligently keeping God’s laws. Luke 11:37-42 Luke 11:37-42  And as he spoke, a certain Pharisee sought him to dine with him: and he went in, and sat down to meat.
 And when the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that he had not first washed before dinner.
 And the Lord said to him, Now do you Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.
 You fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?
 But rather give alms of such things as you have; and, behold, all things are clean to you.
 But woe to you, Pharisees! for you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
American King James Version× for these people Jesus magnifies the law and explains its true intent and purpose… that we seek justice and practice love toward others.
Finally there is a call to repent that goes out even to the Church!
Revelation 2:5 Revelation 2:5Remember therefore from where you are fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come to you quickly, and will remove your candlestick out of his place, except you repent.
American King James Version× Ephesus – you have forgotten your first love, repent!
Revelation 2:14-15 Revelation 2:14-15  But I have a few things against you, because you have there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication.
 So have you also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.
American King James Version× Pergamum – you’re letting false doctrine and idolatry sneak in, REPENT
Revelation 3:3 Revelation 3:3Remember therefore how you have received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore you shall not watch, I will come on you as a thief, and you shall not know what hour I will come on you.
American King James Version× Sardis – you’ve forgotten so much truth, REPENT and work to regain it!
Revelation 3:17-19 Revelation 3:17-19  Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
 I counsel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich; and white raiment, that you may be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness do not appear; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
American King James Version× Laodicea – You have put your confidence in your wealth, REPENT!
Back to Jesus earthly ministry… Jesus Arrives at Jerusalem
Luke 19:28-41 Luke 19:28-41  And when he had thus spoken, he went before, ascending up to Jerusalem.
 And it came to pass, when he was come near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called the mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples,
 Saying, Go you into the village over against you; in the which at your entering you shall find a colt tied, where on yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him here.
 And if any man ask you, Why do you loose him? thus shall you say to him, Because the Lord has need of him.
 And they that were sent went their way, and found even as he had said to them.
 And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said to them, Why loose you the colt?
 And they said, The Lord has need of him.
 And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments on the colt, and they set Jesus thereon.
 And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way.
 And when he was come near, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen;
 Saying, Blessed be the King that comes in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.
 And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said to him, Master, rebuke your disciples.
 And he answered and said to them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.
 And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,
American King James Version× When Jesus the King of Kings and Lord of Lords arrived at Jerusalem the holy city He was not greeted with the respect due to Him, or the dignity befitting who He was…He was not greeted at the city gates by the mayor and civic leaders. Even though messengers and heralds had been sent in advance.
They had been warned, notified, cautioned, they had seen plenty of proof that He was who He said He was but their hearts remained hard… “we don’t recognize this guy”.
There was however a small group of disciples who had accepted that Jesus was who he said He was and acted upon it. A small group of people who would form the beginnings of God’s church. A church commissioned to proclaim the coming kingdom of God and with it a call to prepare through repentance and forgiveness of sins.
What will meet Jesus when He comes in power and glory as king of kings on that great and terrible day?
On one hand He will find hostility… armies of hardened hearts that gather for a futile battle with Him in the valley of decision. On the other hand He will find a people who have heeded the warning, repented and prepared for the king. People ready to listen, ready to follow His lead. People like you… who were willing to take the first step in God’s plan of salvation that we picture and bring into remembrance each Passover.