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Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries

"What Repentance Means"

January 11, 2005

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Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house.” Luke 19:9

An American spy, who had turned over defense secrets to an enemy country, told a panel of congressmen, “I regret that I was caught.” He added, almost as an afterthought, “I regret what I did to my country.”

A thief, or any other kind of wrongdoer, whose only regret is that he was caught, shows no repentance, no sorrow for his sins. In the Greek language, the world for repentance is metanoia, which means a change of mind, genuine grief, a turning away from sin, the willingness to make restitution for wrongs committed. We find these qualities in Zacchaeus, the once-crooked publican who had a change of heart. Likewise King David in Psalm 51 voiced true repentance.

Repentance is by no means a minor emotion. Salvation hinges on it. Jesus said He had come to call sinners to repentance. He wanted hearts truly changed. His message was, “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news” (Mark 1:15). Only those who truly repent will find the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins “the good news.” And that is what the Christian Gospel is: glad tidings. It proclaims and applies the grace of God to repenting and believing sinners. It declares: You are free to go. Your debt is paid. Jesus Christ settled your account with the price of His own blood.

The publican Zacchaeus made restitution for his thievery. He made a fourfold repayment to everyone he had cheated. He did it, not to earn God’s favor and forgiveness – he already had that – but to fulfill love to his neighbor.

We also find peace with God when on a daily basis we repent, believe in Christ Jesus as Savior, and set things in order in our lives.

PRAYER: Lord God Heavenly Father, I confess all my sins to You, trusting that You will forgive me for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

(Devotions from "With Jesus Every Day" copyright 1997, CPH. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be printed, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House. Permission is granted for one-time emailing of this link to a friend. For information on other devotional material, please contact CPH at 800-325-3040 or visit CPH at

Today's Bible Readings: Job 5-7    Matthew 8:18-34

Change Their World. Change Yours. This changes everything.

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