Some religious people of Jesus’ day believed that calamities were the result of God’s disfavor. Jesus addressed that notion head-on by discussing two major events: (1) the massacre by the Romans of Galileans who had come to Jerusalem to worship and (2) the collapse of a tower in Siloam that killed eighteen people:
Here’s today’s rather sobering selection:
Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”
Yesterday, we started discussing Jesus’ first recorded sermon: “The time has come. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
We began by discussing the first 11 words. Today, we’ll focus on the 12th: REPENT.
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matthew 3:2, 4:17)
John the Baptist started his ministry with the above words. So did Jesus. In my book, that means we should probably pay attention.
What exactly does “repent” mean? Basically, it’s turning away from our sins and back toward God.
Here’s how it works in my life. God gives me pretty clear directions on where He’d like me to go. But sometimes when His way gets a bit narrow or rough I toss His directions aside and take a detour.
Usually, the road starts off nice and wide and inviting. So, I step on the gas. God posts warning signs approximately every fifteen feet, but I ignore ’em. Red lights start flashing all over the dashboard and the car starts wheezing and shaking and smoking, but that just makes me stomp on the gas harder.
Suddenly, I realize that what once looked like a fabulous destination is actually the edge of a steep cliff. But just as I’m about to plunge into the abyss, God jams my foot onto the brake and we skid to a stop.
He then asks one simple question: “Ready to turn around?”
I take one last look into the pit, gulp and say “yes.” He places His hands next to mine on the steering wheel and together we execute a perfect U-turn and head back toward His narrow path.
Unfortunately, I find that I have to repeat that little lesson waaaaaay too often. But each time I learn that if I truly confess and turn away from my sins, God’s always there to forgive me and steer me back in the right direction.
Are you following God’s road map for your life? If not, repent NOW. Confess your sins, turn around and head back down God’s narrow path. His Kingdom’s a whole lot better than any other destination.