“After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1.14-15
Just as the final words of a person are significant, so are the first. When little baby Charlotte, my niece says, “Da-da,” every one in the room lights up! Especially her daddy Reed!
Jesus‘ first words, according to the Gospel of Mark, are these — “The time has come…the kingdom of God has come near….repent and believe the good news.” Three phrases, one of introduction — “the time has come.” One of reason — “the kingdom of God has come near,” and one of purpose — “repent and believe the good news.”
These first words of Jesus tell us that what he is about to say matters and what to do about it. All three phrases matter as we seek to live in relationship with God and our fellow human beings. It’s important for us to recognize that now is the day of salvation, that God’s Kingdom is among us, and equally important — turn from sin and believe the good news that Jesus is bringing. Which is — the kingdom of God is among us! God is here.
Repentance is the acknowledgment and recognition that God’s kingdom is among us and with it, God, himself. We repent because God is near. We turn from our sins because as Jesus said, “the time has come” for us to do so. When Jesus spoke those words and walked the earth, he preached about the Kingdom of God and about turning from our sins. You can’t have one without the other. (For more interesting discussion on the Kingdom of God visit— https://www.ucg.org/the-good-news/why-dont-people-understand-the-kingdom-of-god).
But for the purposes of Lent, repentance is key. It’s key not only because the Kingdom of God is among us but Jesus is among us. It’s key because in order to know God, we must submit to God, his plan, his purpose and his ways. Our sin leads to death, yes, but it also leads to distance. It puts negative space between us and God. And so, we implore the spiritual disciplines of confession, repentance, scripture reading, prayer, and worship, to know God and sin less.
My friend Caroline is at this very moment (I know because she just texted me) diving into God’s word. She is learning more about who Jesus is as she strives to walk with him and grow with him. She’s doing it in a bible I gave her and I couldn’t be more proud of her (I love you Caroline!).
Jesus said, “the kingdom of God is among us, so repent and believe the good news.” Are you practicing your faith today? Are you a Christian in name only? Or, are you chasing after Jesus, seeking to know him better, and give your life to his cause?
“O Lord God, you are so good! I praise you for coming to earth, dying upon the cross, and rising again so we might have every lasting life. Thank you for loving us, even during this difficult time in our world. Thank you for caring for all people and for helping us know you better. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen