Summary: In this series on ‘Repentance’ I intend to categorize the subject into II parts. I) Repentance of Sinners & strange as it seems II) Repentance of Saints.
CLARION CALL FOR REPENTANCE – SERIES-PART I
“This is one small step for a man, one giant step for mankind.” These epochal words spoken by Neil Armstrong immediately after laying his foot on the crusty moon surface still echo in our minds, for they represent a special moment not only in space history but also in the history of mankind itself. Honestly some centuries ago, who would have imagined a finite man taking off from earth surface and setting his foot on a celestial object, which was revered to the point of even worship, by some folks? While, it is in order to attach so much of importance to the first words spoken on the lunar surface by the commander of Apollo 11 mission, for they truly represent “making of a history”, have we ever seriously pondered over with similar awe over the first words of a Visitor from “outer space” (read third heaven) to our planet, even as He was “launching” a far more significant mission “Save mankind from sin”?
The words with which our Lord launched His ministry ought to be of great import to us…. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near”. (Matt 4:17/Mark: 1:14), for they represent beginning of a journey in His ministry, which would lead to the “orbit” of the Calvary cross, culminating in a glorious resurrection, in effect paving the way for man to lay his foot not on any object of ordinary “second heaven” (space) but on that of extra-ordinary “third heaven itself” (II Cor 12:2). Incidentally, “first heaven” in Biblical parlance means blue sky, which we daily behold.
Since the subject is broad, I propose to expound the significance of these highly significant path-breaking words, step by step in a series of sermons starting with the word ‘Repent’.
While the Oxford dictionary would give the meaning of the word ‘Repent’ as ‘feeling deep sorrow about one’s wrongful action & resolving, at the same time, not to continue the same’, I particularly like a very creative definition of a Biblical scholar about repentance, which sums it up aptly; Repentance is a state where one becomes allergic to what, he has been addicted to and becomes addicted to what, he has been allergic too. The ministry of Jesus elicited response from some people, which was all of the above & more. In other words, it brought about a right about turn in their lives.
Take the case of Zacchaeus, about whom Jesus said ‘I have come to search & save souls such as his (Luke 19:9-10). From an avaricious, greedy tax collector, he was transformed into a generous saint (Luke 19:8). Those who had known Zacchaeus before the radical change in his life would have surely pinched their skins hard to re-assure themselves of the fact that they were not in their dreams, for generosity had started flowing conspicuously & copiously from his erstwhile greedy life post his encounter with Jesus.
Now the subject of ‘Repentance’ can broadly be categorized into II Categories.
I) Repentance of Sinners & strange as it seems
II) Repentance of Saints.
In the first part of the series, I propose to dwell on category I.