Recently I have been preaching about John the Immerser, although you might call him John the Baptist. He is the one who comes to prepare the way for Jesus. The Gospel writers all give us a few basic facts about this wild-haired preacher out in the region of the Jordan. First, they all say his sermon was a one line as a refrain, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Second, they tell us that he performed a “baptism of repentance.” It is clear that repenting and repentance were the foundation of his ministry.
The primary image of repentance is to turn around or do a 180-degree rotation. I am told it was used in the military as a call for a change of direction. I am also told it was used of runaway slaves when they changed their heart and no longer wanted to run. It is a change of attitude seen in our actions.
John came preaching, and the gospels tell us that people went out in large numbers to hear him. They came from miles away walking in the hot sun to listen to a sermon and then stand in line to be baptized. All of this as a chance at repentance. Repentance was a powerful message that the people wanted to hear.
You are not bound by your family of origin. Your lack of parents, the words of your parents and the attitudes of your family do not direct your actions. The future is yours to create.
You are not defined by your youth. The naïve mistakes you made when you were younger do not define you. Those failures of your former self are not chains that bind you from a better tomorrow.
You are not defined by your sin. That sin that you cannot shake is not a permanent condition. You can break free from your addiction. There is hope to overcome your struggles by walking a new path into the future.
If you have been around Church very long, you have heard the words repent and repentance so much that they might not get you excited anymore. For the people of John’s day, the message was life changing. It meant the chance to let go of the past and form a new future. The word for us today is still the same, and maybe we need to be reminded that there is hope for a better tomorrow, only if we live a life of repentance. Today is your day. Take life in the direction of your dreams with Jesus as your guide. In other words, repent.