“Now, when He heard that John had been arrested, He withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth He went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
‘The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people dwelling in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
on them a light has dawned.‘”
“From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ [And] news about him spread through the whole countryside. He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.”
Jesus lived to fulfill the Scriptures. “so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled ….” Jesus makes choices, speaks, and even travels to certain areas SO THAT the Bible is fulfilled. As you read through the Gospels, remember that Jesus is about His Father’s business, His desire is to do the will of the Father, His life is centered around glorifying God. Jesus came to fulfill the Word of God.
Jesus is saying that He is the great light. He is Life in our land that is covered in death. And He repeats this idea: you and I live in a dark land, and Jesus has come and shed His light on us.
Because of this, He calls us to repentance. ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.‘ These words change the world. The Kingdom is near, so repent. The message is well received, oddly enough, just like with John the Baptist. This message even gets Jesus praise.
Now, what is repentance? How does the Bible define it? Repentance comes from a god-given grief over our sins, a “godly sorrow” that leads us to Christ and the Gospel. Look at 2 Corinthians 7:9-11:
As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out,
No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.
The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
“But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?
Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
And saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.
And rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.
And if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it.
“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.
From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
It may be they will listen, and every one turn from his evil way, that I may relent of the disaster that I intend to do to them because of their evil deeds.
Repentance is a discovery of the evil of sin, a mourning that we have committed it, a resolution to forsake it. It is, in fact, a change of mind of a very deep and practical character, which makes the man love what once he hated, and hate what once he loved.
J. I. Packer writes:
Repentance means turning from as much as you know of your sin to give as much as you know of yourself to as much as you know of your God, and as our knowledge grows at these three points so our practice of repentance has to be enlarged.
John Piper writes:
Repenting means experiencing a change of mind that now sees God as true and beautiful and worthy of all our praise and all our obedience.
So the question Jesus raises (and I pose to you) is: Have you repented? Have you been grieved over your sin, fled to Jesus and the Gospel, and put aside your pride and your “rights” so that you can experience the forgiveness, love, and pardon of God?
And not only that, but Christians: Are you in the habit of repenting? Do you continually repent of your sins and go back to Jesus? The Gospel was never intended to clear your conscious so that you could live life however you wanted, for your own glory, in your own power. You were created to be dependent upon God.
Repent. Seek His Kingdom and His righteousness. “And all these things shall be added unto you.”