Summary: A sermon about repentance and new life.
Do any of you know the name of the inventor of dynamite?
It might sound familiar once you hear it, it’s Alfred Nobel.
In 1867, Nobel, Alfred Nobel, who was a Swedish chemist invented a new high explosive which he named “dynamite.”
Some hoped his invention would make war so horrible that it would never happen again because it would become so awful, so terrible, that no one in their right mind would be willing to inflict that kind of terror on somebody else…
…sadly, they were wrong.
Instead of ending wars, dynamite made them more devastating and wide-ranging than they had ever been before.
Nobel continued making explosives and he made a fortune doing it.
And then something interesting happened.
One morning, around the turn of the century, he awoke to read, and get this, his own obituary, it read:
“Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, who died yesterday, devised a way for more people to be killed in a war than ever before.
He died a very rich man.”
The newspaper had made a mistake-- Alfred’s older brother was the one who died.
But, as you could probably imagine, the obituary had a profound effect on him.
He realized he didn’t want to be known primarily as the person who developed the most effective killing machine of his generation and amassed a fortune doing it…that sounds more like the villain to a story than the good-guy, right?
So, what did Alfred Nobel do…well, he founded the Nobel Prize—an award for scientists and writers who work toward peace.
Nobel said, “Every [person] ought to have the chance to correct his [or her] epitaph in midstream and write a new one.”
What had happened?
Alfred Nobel was given a chance to make a change.
He was given the chance to make a big turn, repentance in his life.
To choose forces of good over evil, and ultimately, when he did pass away, he would be known not just for creating dynamite, but for creating the most well-known peace prize in the entire world.
After His baptism and having survived the temptations in the desert, Jesus arrives in Galilee, in our Gospel Lesson for this morning, to announce that God’s “time has come. The Kingdom of God is near.
Repent and believe the good news!”
To come near means to join one thing to another.
Heaven and earth are about to be joined together.
Everything is about to change.
It’s about to change for people who are hungry for it.
It’s about to change for people who are desperate for it.
Repent and believe the good news!
Repent means, quite literally to turn around.
Think about it, when you are alone and walking down a dark and scary road, turning around is not a bad idea.
When you are heading for a disaster, it is best to turn as quick as you can and run in the opposite direction.
This is a good thing.
It is a welcome thing for those who are not satisfied with what this world has to offer.
Have you ever felt as if you didn’t belong…like something wasn’t quite right?
Have you ever been to a party and felt out of place?
Have you ever felt alone in a group of people?
Have you ever thought that there is something wrong with the way things are moving?
Have you ever felt like your life could be so much more than it is…
…so much more fulfilling…
…so much more meaningful…
…so much more useful?
Have you ever wanted to stop the train and get off?
I’m not talking about giving up.
I’m not talking about ending it.
I’m talking about the exact opposite.
I’m talking about moving from death to life.
From darkness to light.
From the way of the world to the way of the Kingdom.
I know I have shared this before, but when I was 18 years old I felt very lost.
And I came to a point in time where heaven and earth were about to be joined together.
It’s kind of like Jesus’ call to Simon, Andrew and James and John…
…I was doing my own thing…
…but not satisfied with it.
I knew there was more to life than where I was headed.
And when Jesus called me, I saw a choice: I could continue following Satan…
…or I could follow Christ.
I could keep going the way I was going or I could turn around and go in the opposite direction.
I made the decision to listen to Jesus and turn around.
And my life has never been the same.
I would say, even today, some 34 years later, that was the most important decision I have made in my life and will probably ever make.