Luke, a 1st century physician, wrote an accurate account of the life of Jesus which included His birth and early years, including information about Jesus’ cousin John the Baptist. Luke did a meticulous investigation of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection by interviewing a number of the eyewitnesses of these things, and was a regular companion of the Apostle Paul.
In Luke 3, he writes of John the Baptist: “And he came into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” Luke 3:3 NASB John wasn’t preaching you need to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins, but that after genuine repentance (which is the requirement for forgiveness of sin), be baptized as a visual sign of your repentance and forgiveness.
Repentance basically means a change of mind that leads to a change of heart and lifestyle. Let’s say you believed a certain product was good and then learned truth about the negative aspects of this particular product. In essence, to repent, you would change your mind about the product and change your lifestyle when you quit using it.
However, when John talks about repentance, it’s immensely important. Repentance is not about being religious, it’s about establishing a relationship with God which is then demonstrated in the way we respond to God and people. To repent means I change my mind about my own sin (living life focused on myself with little concern about God’s desire) and change my mind about Jesus (who He was and what He did for me).
Repentance means I discover the truth about God’s grace and love and choose to turn away from sin (living life focused on myself); turning to God to live in a way that honors Him by trusting/following Jesus. Granted, none of us live a life of perfection after genuine repentance, but there should be evidence of a change in direction as we submit ourselves to Jesus and He begins to transform (change) us.
John said it this way: “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God….” Luke 3:8 NLT
BTW – when Jesus began His ministry, Matthew (an eyewitness of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection) writes: “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” Matthew 4:17 EST
If you’re a Jesus follower, the most evident proof of genuine repentance is that we love God with a whole heart and this is evidenced by the way we treat others; loving them as God loves us. (see Matthew 22:36-40)
When John told the people to prove your repentance by the way you live, they asked him how? He gave them some practical examples that are the result of living out the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:36-40). In Luke 3:10-14 he told them three practical ways to demonstrate their repentance.
1) Generosity – make it your habit to share with others in need.
2) Live a life of integrity in all matters, especially those related to the handling of money and possessions.
3) Don’t use your power of position to take advantage of others, rather be content with what you have and back to point 1 – share with others.
Just a few thoughts from my time alone with God this morning.