Summary: In this passage Jesus teaches us about Repentance - Repentance involves 1. Revelation and Realization 2. Redemption and Renewal 3. Reorientation and living a life of Righteousness
Scripture: Matthew 4: 12 - 23
In this passage Jesus teaches us about Repentance - Repentance involves 1. Revelation and Realization 2. Redemption and Renewal 3. Reorientation and Righteousness
Grace and peace from God our Father and from His Son Jesus Christ who came to take away the sin of the world.
In his inspired little book entitled, After You Believe, Dr. Nicholas Thomas Wright shares this moving story:
"James was in his early twenties when it happened. His life had been going along, nothing too dramatic, just the usual ups and downs. Suddenly, out of the blue, he met up with an old friend who was on his way to a meeting at a nearby church. James went too, and that very night, to his complete astonishment, his life was turned upside down and inside out.
'I never knew these things really happened,' he told me when I met him some years later. ("James" isn't his real name, of course). 'When I talk about it, it sounds like I'm some religious nut, but it's the sober truth. I met Jesus! He was as real to me as you are in this room. All the old clichés suddenly came true. I felt cleansed, rinsed out, and more alive than I'd ever been before. It's as though I'd gone into a deep sleep and woken up in a new world, totally refreshed. I knew what people were talking about with all that God stuff before, but believe me, it all makes sense." (page 1)
What this young man experienced was of course what our passage deals with this morning. James ( we will continue to call him James) had repented of his sins and had began a new life in Christ Jesus. What this young man had experienced and was continuing to experience was/is the real reason that Jesus came to our world. Jesus came so that anyone and everyone could experience salvation.
This morning, I would like for us to spend some time looking at verse 17. I would like for us to look at this concept of repentance. What does it mean to repent? What and who are involved? What does repentance do in our lives and what does it lead to afterwards?
I. Repentance involves a Revelation and a Realization
Have you ever met or heard of a baby being born all by itself? A baby born that was all alone? A baby that just popped up out of nowhere?
We all have heard of babies being found or abandoned but never of one that just appeared out of thin air. Why? Because we all know that is not how babies come into our world. A baby has a human mother and a father and all babies are born with at least their mother being present. In fact, she has been there all along. She was there from the very beginning to the very end of the pregnancy. We may find babies abandoned, abused and neglected but all babies come into this world with at least one person with them. We may die alone but we are never born alone.
Now, why would I be saying this? Because just as one is physically born alone, no one comes to faith in Jesus Christ alone. No one comes to repentance without the help of the LORD and co-partnering human disciples.
+ First of all, of course, is the activity of the LORD who is calling, directing and guiding. Long before we repent of our sins the LORD is already at work in our lives. We never come to faith alone. In John 16:8 the LORD tells us that part of the work of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of our sins. That means that the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives before we are even aware. The Holy Spirit is busy speaking, drawing and calling people to repentance and salvation. He is revealing our sin and revealing the Good News of Salvation.
+Secondly, we see that the Lord enlists the help of others. How else can we know about the LORD outside of someone sharing with us the Gospel message? Romans 10:14 tells us - "How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?" The LORD co-partners with humans to sound forth the message of repentance and salvation.
Remember in our story the young man named James? Dr. Wright informs us that his life had been going up and down. That is to say his life was not in balance. James was sensing that he needed a change. Then suddenly out of the blue he was invited to a meeting. We need to understand this morning that what looked like mere chance however, was instead a dance orchestrated by the Holy Spirit and fleshed out by obedient followers of Jesus.