"From that time Jesus began to preach and say 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'"--Matthew 4:17. Here we see Jesus at the outset of His ministry. Jesus' primary message at the outset is repentance. Matthew 4:12-16 tell us that Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of being the light. And now verse 17 gets in to what Jesus preaches and what it is that needs to be our response.
Our response. Jesus' message is repentance. Why? Because the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Tonight, I won't get in to the meaning of the kingdom because it is used in different ways throughout the New Testament. What we know is that the light in the darkness has come and repentance of our sins is the response.
Our response. Earlier tonight I was listening to one of my instructors talk about repentance and how quite honestly it is not emphasized enough in the Lord's church when we are getting ready to baptize someone into Christ. When we look at Acts 2:36-38, we see that the people knew they had sinned by killing Christ and they knew this sin needed to be justified. Peter tells them to REPENT and be baptized to forgive their sin. We know from this verse (and others) that baptism is essential to salvation but maybe what my instructor said is true, are we not spending enough time on the repentance aspect? After all isn't repentance what Jesus preached at the outset of His ministry?
Repentance. According to Dan Owen, the instructor I just spoke of, repentance involves "a paradigm shift" or a change of mind in regards to our attitude toward sin. Romans 6:2-6 is clear about the fact that being baptized into Christ is a response to that state of mind that we want to 'bury the old man of sin.' When we repent we are putting to death that old person and we when we look at the context of Romans 6, we bury that dead person in baptism and are therefore united with Christ. REPENTANCE followed by baptism is our response to the light in the darkness that we have already believed in.
Repentance. From the time Jesus began His ministry, He began by preaching repentance. We know from other passages such as in Romans 7:14-25 that the struggle with sin will continue even after repentance and baptism. However, having an attitude of repentance and putting the old man to death will allow us to better serve our God each and everyday with our mind and in turn with our physical bodies.
So Jesus is the light of the world? How will we respond to that light? Consider the image at the beginning of this blog. There is light entering a dark room. Would you open that door wider or would you shut it because at this point all you know is darkness? Jesus opened the door of this dark world and brought His light in to the darkness. What was our response?
Our response? Well when we read through the pages of the New Testament from Acts 2 forward, some did repent, came into the light and obeyed the gospel but others remained in the darkness.
Our response. The fact is even when Jesus' light is shed on people, many will ignore it because they have gotten so used to the darkness that they no longer realize they are in darkness. They don't realize that they need to repent and make that change of mind and attitude. Others however are doing everything they can to find their way out of the darkness. Only God knows who is in which group but we don't. This is why it is crucial for us to do as Mark 16:15-16 instructs, to preach the gospel to every creature. That's right EVERY creature meaning every man and woman. Jesus is the light, what is our response?
So given that Jesus is the light, my encouragement to you is this. If you are a Christian, what are you doing with the light? Are you keeping it yourself knowing that your neighbor, friend, co-worker or even a family member is living in the darkness and needs the light? Make an effort to initiate a conversation about the gospel with that person. If you have wandered back into the darkness after repenting and obeying the gospel, you can still come back into the light by putting to death whatever it was in your life that dragged you back, this is repentance, putting sin to death. But most importantly, if you are still wandering around in the darkness looking for a way out and have not committed your life to Christ, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be happy to answer any questions about Jesus and His ability to save you from sin that you might have. What will your response be to Jesus, the light in the darkness?
DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! PRAY ABOUT IT! LOVE Y'ALL! GOD BLESS!