The Gift of Repentance

Feet walking away to show that repentance is walking in the opposite directionnn
Image by Daniel Reche from Pixabay

Leaving Nazareth, [Jesus] went and lived in Capernaum … From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

Matthew 4:13,17

Jesus’ message was clearly one of repentance, establishing His Kingdom.

Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:12-13

I tell you that in the same way, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Luke 15:7

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Luke 19:9-10

Christmas is not about the outward trappings, not about the ribbons, tags, packages, boxes, or bags. Christmas is all about the heart, the new heart that God promises His children – “I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.” (Jeremiah 24:7)

The awareness of sin is the inevitable
consequence of having met grace…
This grace-judgment dynamic reveals
that the center of Christian life is repentance. …
Repentance is the response to grace that
overcomes the past and opens out to a new future. …
Feeling sorry, acknowledging guilt, and prolonging regret
may be components of the human condition,
but they are not what Jesus means by repentance.
Repentance distinguishes Christian life as one of struggle and conversion and pervades it, not with remorse, but with hope.

John Shea

Repentance in the Old Testament is tied to rescue from exile. It means returning to God’s presence, man and God dwelling together. In New Testament, repentance has an additional subtlety of agreeing with God, agreeing with God that His ways are best, turning from our own ways, getting in step with God. Repentance is not a threat of doom. Instead, it is about grace, mercy, shalom, flourishing in God’s presence. Repentance paves the way for abundant living – not “health, wealth” as in prosperity gospel – but the abundance that comes from living at peace with our God.

How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.

Psalm 31:19

As you sit with these words for a minute, in what ways are you experiencing the grace and mercy of God, the abundant life He has for you? And in what area, might repentance be needed?

Isaiah records God’s words, “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” (Isaiah 30:15) May that last phrase not apply to us! Instead, let’s find our salvation in repentance and rest, our strength in quietness and trust.

Father, we thank you for grace, peace, the coming of your kingdom. We thank you for your provision for our abundant life in you. In Christ was have everything we need for life and godliness. In Christ, we are reconciled to you, live at peace with you, and flourish because of you. Thank you for the gift of repentance, that you do not count our sins against us, but instead remember them no more. Search us today, God, know our hearts. Test us. Show us the areas in which we are straying far from you. Lead us, O King Eternal, in your ways! Amen.

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