Repentance and the Kingdom of Heaven

Day 2 of Jesus, I Need You – Part 2, a study of Thistlebend Ministries

Scripture Reading: Matthew 3:1-12 and 11:15

 In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was,  “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” The prophet Isaiah was speaking about John when he said,

“He is a voice shouting in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming!
    Clear the road for him!’”

3:11“I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

11:15Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!

Matthew 3:1-3,11 and 11:15 NLT
Observation: What’s the Message?

Today’s message is undoubtedly the message of repentance because the “Kingdom of Heaven was near”, perhaps best explained by

John’s Jewish listeners would have been familiar with the idea that a new kingdom would one day be established by the promised Messiah. John will point to Jesus as that Messiah, and to the imminent establishment of His kingdom. John will insist, though, that repentance—turning from sin—was necessary for his Jewish listeners to be included in that kingdom. The mere fact of their Israelite heritage would not be enough. This would have been a new idea to some.

However, let’s also look at the underlying message – the one we find in Matthew 11:15 which is nearly the same as what we previously read in Revelation 2:7. Both passages call us to listen to what’s being said. We’ve seen it twice already in our study. Once as a warning about being alienated from God and the other in the message from Jesus to the Church at Ephesus concerning how they had left their first love. In both passages He wants the people to know how imperative it is for them to listen to what He’s saying. He wants them to listen so they will know how to live and choose to turn from what is wrong and do what is right.

In today’s passage, we read how John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way for the Lord, the long awaited Messiah. His message is one of repentance in order to prepare the hearts of those who will listen – to be ready to receive the salvation that Jesus is bringing. It is so important to realize that if we fail to listen to His instructions or if we fail to make much of His Word we will lose the opportunity to draw close to God and to have Him draw close to us.

So Why A Message Of Repentance?

Repentance is to make a turn – a change of heart and mind that changes the actions or thoughts and words of a person. One commentary described repentance like this, “To stop going the wrong way and start going the right way.” So John was preparing the people to think differently and respond differently to people and situations. Jesus would be bringing the message of Salvation – “He who believes in me will have eternal life the one who does not believe will not have eternal life”, (John 3:36).

Application: How Then Should We Live?

To be sure, salvation is through faith alone in Christ alone -but repentance is part of that faith. The understanding or foundation of our faith is that we are all sinners (Rom 3:23), in need of a Savior because the wages of our sin is death (Rom 6:23), the requirement – an atonement we could not provide – a spotless, sinless sacrifice, (2 Corinthians 5:21). This is the sacrifice God sent because He so loved the world (John 3:16).

Because we have believed, we – like John, are now witnesses and messengers meant to prepare the way for others to come – making sure they know the way. If we don’t listen to this teaching and follow we may well be a hindrance to the Gospel message.

Since John’s message was one of ‘repentance’, we must understand what repentance is and make sure that we turn from our sin and walk in the ways of the Lord, who left a bold and lasting legacy for us to follow – namely, loving God with all of His being and loving us more than He loved Himself – even to the point of death on the cross.

Prayer: Response to God’s Word

God forbid that we would be a hindrance to the message of Jesus Christ! Help us to make straight the path so that all will come to You and be saved. Help us to understand the promise isn’t ours through our goodness or family heritage – but – as Your Word teaches – it is through faith alone in Christ alone. Help us to not forget the importance of listening to the message Jesus and John and others like them came to bring – for as Timothy said,  All Scripture is inspired by [You] and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. Use it to prepare and equip us to do every good work! In His Name — and for Your Glory! Amen –

Your Turn:
  • What’s your take away from today’s message?
  • What are some things you can do to make sure you are listening to God’s Word?
  • Are there things you currently need to repent (turn away from)?
Want More?

Go deeper with…

Thistlebend’s devotional

An understanding of Matthew chapter 3, who John the Baptist was, and what he was doing to prepare the way for the Jesus, The Messiah

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