In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Matthew 3:1-2
John the Baptist figures prominently in the Advent Bible readings even though he was still a baby when Jesus was born. But Advent is about preparation, and 30 years after Jesus was born, John prepared the faithful to meet their long-awaited Savior. His message was simple and straightforward: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Christ’s kingdom, however, was not to be a worldly kingdom, but a heavenly kingdom.
Repentance is an important part of our life in Christ’s kingdom, but it is not what brings our salvation. Christ’s life and death is the cause of our salvation. To repent is to turn away from sin, but we cannot make God save us, no matter how or how often we repent. God commands us to repent, not because we can save ourselves, but because He knows that a repentant sinner will remain in faith, while an unrepentant sinner will lose his faith. We certainly do not repent as often, or as sincerely, as we ought; but God’s forgiveness in Christ Jesus remains certain.
Let us then repent of our sins, for the kingdom of heaven is near. But let us not put our faith in our repentance; instead let us put all our trust in our King, Jesus, who has redeemed us from all sin.
Prayer: Lord God, we praise You that through Your Holy Word You have shown us salvation through Your Son, Jesus, that we may live our lives in perfect hope and trust in Your gracious forgiveness. Amen.
© 2006 Lutheran Hour Ministries
These devotions have been written by Rev. Paul and Kaye Wolff. Rev. Paul Wolff is a 1996 graduate of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. He has served as a pastor in the Detroit area for 10 years. He and co-author wife, Kaye, live in Southfield, Michigan.
Kaye Dumas Wolff is Chairperson of the Black Ministry Church Planting Task Force and a Mission Affiliate of LCMS World Missions where she serves as a training facilitator for laity in evangelism and mission work. Kaye serves on the Advisory Council of the Ethnic Immigrant Institute of Theology of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, and she is a presenter for Lutheran Hour Ministries’ Equipping to Share Workshop.
Click here for an audio version of today's devotion (3MB, MP3).