Read Matthew 3:1-12
Did you ever have a “dirty job?” You know like a fast food job? Construction? My first job was working at our local ballpark as a “ballpark engineer.” That was a fancy title that I gave myself that meant do any of the menial tasks that needed to be done at our local ballpark. For six summers I picked up trash, cleaned the bathrooms & concession stands, took the trash out to the dumpsters, cut the grass, etc. I made a little summer cash, got a great tan, and it was a very dirty job.
Oddly enough, nobody wrote an article about our staff or about the importance of being a ballpark engineer as our job was simply to make sure the ballpark was clean & that the fields were prepared for the teams to play on each day. John the Baptist (or Baptizer) had a similar job. He had the dirty job of calling the people of Israel to repentance & to prepare the way for Jesus. There hadn’t been a prophet for 400 years and suddenly God anointed John the Baptist to speak on His behalf to His people.
John the Baptist wasn’t flashy. He preached in the Judean wilderness (aka out in the woods), wore tattered clothes, and apparently was paleo before anyone else as he lived off wild honey & locusts. His message was simple and strong; “repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” God gave John the dirty job to prepare the way for the Messiah. He prepared the field for Jesus to harvest.
His message was timely but is also very relevant to us today. If we truly want to chase Jesus, it’s essential for us embrace repentance. Repentance means to turn from our sins and turn to God. The Greek word usually used for repentance in the New Testament is “metanoa”; which means a “change of mindset.” The Old Testament concept of repentance meant “a change of action.” A combination of those two definitions gives us the most complete understanding of what repentance is; a change of mind & action.
It’s essential for us to change our mind about our sin if we are to become more like Jesus. This is very important because every time we sin we believe a lie. We choose to believe that lust is better than purity or pride is better than humility or greed is better than generosity. We don’t phrase it that way when we communicate it to others but that is what we do. We say things like “it’s not that big of a deal if I ________” or I don’t have to do _______ to be a Christian” even though the Bible tells us to. True repentance begins with us saying I am wrong & God you are right. It is a big deal and I did it and I’m sorry. I know I should have been doing these things and I said I was too busy.. but really I wasn’t and I’m sorry.
It is also essential for us to change our actions to truly repent as well. We must not only stop doing the things we need to stop doing but we also need to start doing things we need to be doing. It’s not enough just to stop thinking impure thoughts; Jesus would have us fill our minds with truth! It’s not enough to just admit we need to start praying; we must start spending concentrated time communing with Him! And for us to begin a real relationship with the Living God of the Universe it begins with us heeding the words of John from the Wilderness..
Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.
And the Kingdom of Heaven is more near to us that it was to those hearing John’s message because they had heard of the Messiah that was to come but we know His Name! And His name is Jesus. And if we call on His name for salvation He will save us from our sins. And if we give our lives to follow Him, He will do more with our little lives than we would have ever believed possible!
Chasing Jesus Questions:
- What is an area of your life where you need repentance? It may be something you need to stop doing or start doing.
- What did John mean when He said He will baptize you with fire & the Holy Spirit?
Social Media Quote: To truly follow Jesus, we must embrace repentance. #chasingJesus
Chasing Jesus Challenge: Encourage at least two followers of Jesus today (in person, text, social, etc). Encourage them specifically in areas where you see God producing “good fruit” in their life!