"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." Matthew 3:2
As presented on *The Lutheran Hour® by Dr. Oswald C. J. Hoffmann, 1962
A striking painting of John the Baptist portrays him as lean and sun-bronzed, rough-skinned clothing, full beard, and one remarkable feature: his piercing eye. It is not the eye of a fanatic, driven wild by religion, but of a man with one mission and one message. The title of the painting is: "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at Hand."
The only people surprised at John's preaching of repentance were those who felt deep down in their hearts that repentance was for others. They were the same people who were surprised when our Lord told the story of the shepherd, leaving his 99 sheep in the wilderness in order to go out and find the lost one.
The world is filled today with righteous people. Like the religious people of John's time, they know exactly who should hear this message of repentance: their neighbors, the great sinners, the unbelievers, the non-church members. They point to everyone, in other words, except those upon whom John put his branding iron: "Repent and quit bragging about what wonderful people you are, what wonderful ancestry you have enjoyed, and what marvelous resources you have at your disposal."
You can never say to God, "I repent. I've completed my part of the bargain. Now You take care of Your share." Repentance sees the forgiveness of God as the only hope. It accepts the forgiveness of God as the only gift.
God, thank You for the gift of forgiveness through Jesus. Amen.
Taken from A Message of Hope: Proclaiming the Promise (selections from messages broadcast on *The Lutheran Hour, celebrating 75 years of proclaiming the promise).
Copyright © 2005 by Lutheran Hour Ministries
*The Lutheran Hour is the longest-running Christian radio broadcast in the world. It is a production of Lutheran Hour Ministries. For more information, visit www.lutheranhour.org.