Reading: Mark 1: 14-18
Verse Fifteen: “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news”.
Jesus begins His earthly ministry in a similar manner to John the Baptist’s ministry. Like John, Jesus calls the people to repent and then to accept the good news. Repentance must come first. We simply cannot walk with Jesus when we have sin in our lives. Sin, by its nature, separates us from God. Repentance requires a change in our lives. Whatever the sin, it leads us away from God. So if our desire is to be in a relationship with God, then we must turn away from our sin and resubmit our lives to faithful obedience.
As Jesus entered Galilee, the message He preached was all about repentance. He said over and over, “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news”. This theme continued throughout His ministry. The woman caught in adultery heard this message as Jesus told her, “Go now and leave your life of sin”. Zacchaeus pledges a new life as he promises to repay all that he has wronged. Jesus responds by declaring that salvation has come to Zacchaeus that day. Over and over Jesus calls us to leave our sin behind and to turn to Him.
Repentance is hard. It would be easier to skip over this part of the passage. Repentance requires admitting that we did something wrong, that we faltered. This requires a certain amount of humility. Pride and ego can get in the way. Repentance also requires an honest look into ourselves, a searching if you will, to see the sin in our lives. And lastly, it requires that we commit to being better, to walking a more holy life, to being more like Jesus.
Jesus sought disciples who were willing to put their old life behind them to come and follow Him. It required a radical change in direction. Simon and Andrew heard His call and began a new way of life. It was risky and full of the unknown. It required trust. Repentance can bring us these same feelings as we choose to leave a part of ourselves behind and we are not sure where our new self will go. Just as Jesus called the first disciples, He calls us as well. Jesus is still seeking followers who are willing to orient their lives to a new way of living over and over. The journey of faith never ends as our faith is always growing and developing. The call involves risk for us too. Are we willing to risk and to trust in wherever Jesus leads? After all, the call is to come and follow.