“From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.’” (Matthew 4:17)
Repentance was a major theme of John the baptizer and Jesus. It was the case that the whole population from the beginning of time needed a new direction. They needed to turn from their focus on outward religious observances to an inward relationship with their God.
The law of repentance was necessary before the love of the gospel could be understood and received. All that was wrong with human society had to be addressed before the answer in Jesus could be applied.
The balance between Law and Gospel needs to be safeguarded in every generation. It will be attacked throughout history as Satan tries, in his most desperate ways, to stamp out the love of God. Our God is not a mushy, sentimental figure who loves our every action. Our God is one with a “backbone” so to speak.
He has not changed how we are to approach Him from the beginning. His grace works only in one way: repentance to forgiveness. That is the Law and the Gospel. This is what Jesus came for, to make the path straight and clear. It is the way to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Heavenly Father, repentance is a constant part of our daily walk with You. We are always aware of our shortfalls. But we are also aware of Your love of us anyway and Your constant work in us to transform us into the image of Your Son. How marvelous is Your Law and Gospel. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Pastor Robert Forsberg is retired from Light of Christ Lutheran Church in Fairborn.