Tag Archives: Repentance

All the Way

Three small words bring tears to the eyes of parents on Christmas morning:  “Some assembly required.”  (Borrowed that line from my friend; thanks, Bob!)  If you have engaged in “some assembly” you have probably discovered there is a certain order in which everything must be done or it just won’t go together right. If you fasten the connectors on the axle before you have connected the crank, you have to take the whole deal apart and start over. 

John the Baptist was baptizing people as an expression of their repentance from sin and Jesus showed up to be baptized.  John was astonished and said, “No way… You should be baptizing me.”  Here’s how Jesus replied:

But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” (Matthew 3:15a)

Translation?  This has to happen first, before I can begin the rest of my ministry, or the whole deal won’t work right.   God made a plan and each piece of the plan must be accomplished in the right order.

Which raises this question: Why would the sinless Son of God need to be baptized as a symbol of repenting from sin? You know He had to come to earth as a human being in order to accomplish the plan.  To leave His privileged position in Heaven and come to earth as a human was a big step down.  But He did it to identify Himself with us, according to the Plan.  He wasn’t born to royalty in a palace, but to a homeless, young couple who improvised a makeshift crib in a feed trough.  Huge step down, to identify with the lowliest of us.

How do you feel in moments when you have openly acknowledged your own need to repent, to turn away from sin?  Have you ever felt lower?  Probably not.  And it was to that place that Jesus descended, in the waters of John’s baptism, to identify with you, when you were at your lowest.  As He explained, It had to be done this way, or the whole deal wouldn’t work right.  “We must do this now to fulfill all righteousness.”

Jesus came all the way down, to rescue you.

Don’t Just Stand There

One of the most mysterious things about the Bible is how it all fits together.  If it had been written by one guy, and he was a genius, it would be amazing to see how the early books fit neatly into the later ones.  But when you understand it was written by more than 35 different authors, from several different cultures and spanning 1500 years, the symmetry and unity of the Bible’s writing is mind-boggling.  For example:

” Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.” He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.” (Matthew 12:38-41)

Admittedly, the story of Jonah is a head-scratcher.  You might read it (I suggest you do…) and wonder, “What is this all about and why is a story like this in the Bible?” But then, several hundred years after Jonah was written, Jesus shows that Jonah unknowingly and prophetically acted out a preview of the crucifixion!  The more you prowl around and ponder the Word, the more you discover that the writings are deliberate and intentional.

Amazing!  So is the point of both of those accounts: When God tries to get your attention, respond!

Quotes from: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Check Engine

Are you getting tired of all this talk about what makes God angry?   You might be thinking, “Alright already! I get it; let’s get on to something more pleasant!”   If that is how you feel, imagine how God feels!  Fact is, God wants us to get on with the good stuff.  That’s why He gave us the Bible!

When your check-engine light comes on,

Check Engine light on a 1996 Dodge Caravan.

Check Engine light on a 1996 Dodge Caravan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

you can either get upset about it, or you can think, “Wow! My car just informed me of something I can do to get it running better.”   Sure you can  also be bummed out about the cretin who just serviced the thing and who probably left a wire unplugged…   But the point is, Isaiah 5 is a “Check Engine” light.  Ignore it to your own peril.  Here’s what lies ahead for those who do:

So man will be brought low and mankind humbled, the eyes of the arrogant humbled.  (Isaiah 5:15)

The problem, at its root, is arrogance, the attitude that presumes it knows better than God how to live in His garden.  The opposite attitude, humility, is held by those who really do know they need to pay attention to God, the Creator and Designer of all this and to submit to the ways He has said work best.  If you are only recently reading these posts, go back and read about the key verse in Isaiah, the one that reveals the message of the whole Bible.  The short version is this: God will dwell in the souls of the humble, will forgive them, restore them and bring them to full life (Isaiah 57:15-19).

Here is what lies ahead for the humble:

But the Lord Almighty will be exalted by his justice, and the holy God will show himself holy by his righteousness. Then sheep will graze as in their own pasture; lambs will feed among the ruins of the rich. (Isaiah 5:16-17)

The “sheep” in those verses are the humble who pay attention and submit to God.  And to His Son, Jesus.  Here’s what Jesus said lay in store for His “sheep”:

Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.
(John 10:7-9)