Mark 1:14-15 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Our Lenten journey is a familiar one. Many of us have made this trip dozens of times before. We’ve seen the sights – the upper room; Gethsemane; the trials before Ananias, Caiaphas, and Pilate; the cross. This is the very heart of the gospel and our Christian faith: Jesus crucified and risen.
At this time of year, God again invites us to share in Jesus’ victory over the devil. We do that first by hearing again the good news of Jesus’ victory over sin and Satan. God wants us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus” (2 Peter 3:18). The only way we can grow is by hearing, reading, and studying God’s Word.
To share in Jesus’ victory, we need to know the facts of the battle. But just knowing those facts is not sharing in the victory. We need to “repent and believe the good news!”
Literally we are to be repenting. In other words we don’t just repent once and then that’s good for the rest of our lives. Repentance is to be an everyday part of our lives because we sin every day. Repentance is seeing our sins for what they are and standing terrified before a just God. It is realizing that sin is not just a mistake or a bad choice. It is a rebellion and a rejection of God’s authority over us. Repentance is the opposite of shrugging off our sins as if God will just have to understand and accept them, which he never does. Repentance is realizing that God promises to punish sin with hell.
Such terror serves its purpose when we hear the good news of Jesus’ forgiveness and believe it is true for us. We drop the excuses and make a heartfelt confession: “If you, 0 LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?” (Psalm 130:3).
God has every right to make our lives now a living hell and then to say to each one of us, “To hell with you!” But instead of “Go to hell!” God tells us, “Go to Calvary. Come to me.”
“Repent,” God says. “Give up on yourself, but don’t give up on me! Jesus is your perfect Savior. He has obeyed all my commandments for you. He has conquered the devil. He has paid for all your sins with his own death. He has defeated death and the grave. For Jesus’ sake, I forgive you all your sins. In my Son, I promise you eternal life in heaven.”