hands praying with a bible in a dark over wooden table

Theme:   Repentance: The Spiritual 180 Degree Turn

Verse: Mark 1:1-5
“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,  “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’” John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

Reflection:  “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent,’ he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” (Martin Luther).  That sounds like such an odd statement in the ears of modern believers. There are actually some churches that never use the word repent because they think it too harsh. But repentance is one of the most beautiful concepts in the Bible if we understand it correctly. It means to recognize the path we are on is going in the wrong direction, and to turn and go the other way. What this looks like in practicality is that all through our lives we will come to realize that an action, an attitude, a behavior is not in line with the will of God (that would be called “sin”). When we come to those moments, what does God desire of us? To first, confess that sin—which basically means we are agreeing with God that what we are doing is wrong. Second, to express sorrow for the sin. And third, to turn away from it, and seek a new path. When John baptized in the wilderness, it was a baptism centered on repentance and the forgiveness of sins. What a blessing to come up out of that water knowing that you were free from your sins.

One of the joys of the Lenten season is that we slow down long enough to actually ask God to reveal to us where our lives are “off the track”. Let’s be honest: we aren’t always very good about recognizing our own sinful tendencies. And as we spend time in prayer, in the Word, and in self-denial/fasting, we open ourselves up to hear the Spirit of God’s voice in our hearts. Only when we hear God speak to us (no matter how He does it), can we then repent and start on a new path with our Father. And like the saints of old who were baptized by John in the desert, we too can embrace the forgiveness that is ours in Jesus.