The Call to Repent

The Long Wait

Have you ever waited for something for so long that your ears started to tingle when you hear news about it?  All of us have had that feeling, whether it was waiting for news of a loved one who was on a long journey or waiting in agony over medical test results.  What if the one you are waiting to hear from was God?

1 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

Matthew 3:1-2 (New International Version)

The Silence Broken

That was the case in Israel when Jesus arrived at the seen.  It has been over 200 years since the Lord spoke to His people, and they were anxious for any word from the Almighty.  Proof of this anxiety is found in the people’s response to the ministry of John the Baptist.

People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan.Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.

(Verses 5-8)

Call to Repentance

The purpose of John’s mission was to make the people aware of their need for salvation and that they needed to confess their sins and turn away from them.  The fact that many people came to be baptized showed that they were convicted of their sinful ways and they desired to return to God.  However, before John arrived, there were people who could’ve guided them to that repentance.

Failing to Make the Call

The Jewish people had religious leaders and teachers of the Law, who knew God’s Word inside and out.  One would think that they realized that the people needed to repent of their sins, and yet there was no sign that they made any effort to bring the people back to God.  Why did they not make the call for repentance themselves?

Pride Equals Superiority

When one has gained a mastery over a given subject, it can be really easy for that person to believe that they are head and shoulders above all others.  They believe that it is not up to them to help those who have not received the knowledge they have, those less fortunate need to help themselves.  That was the case for the religious leaders in Jesus’s day.  If the people did not put any effort to know God’s Law and follow it, just as the religious leaders had, then they don’t deserve to be saved.

Pride Equals Spiritual Blindness

What is even worse is that because they knew God’s Law, they believed that they had no need of repentance, believing themselves to be without sin.  After all, they knew the Law.  What these teachers of the Law failed to realize was that keeping the Law would not save them from the wrath to come.  Just as John the Baptist explained, “ The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Verse 10).

The Law Can’t Save Us

No law, no matter how perfectly followed, can’t save a man from the consequences of their sin.  Only through belief in the One that was to come after John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, would man be saved.  There is no action that we can do that can confirm our salvation in the life after this.  Our sin is too black for any man-made law.  Therefore, we must humble ourselves and accept that we have all fallen short of God’s Holy Standards.

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