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Repentance is Sacrifice


By Benjamin H. Liles

"From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand'" (Matt. 4:17).

Not a great deal of people understand the concept of God being a loving God. However, we can all agree that Jesus Christ was loving, except to the religious leaders. I want to tear this verse apart for a reason to show a few things:

1) "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." We're told in Isaiah that Jesus would be known as "Immanuel, which means 'God is with us'" (Matt 1:23). What does Immanuel, or Emmanuel, meaning "God with us" have to do with "The kingdom of God?" Jesus quotes Isaiah 61:1, saying, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free" (Luke 4:18). For the kingdom of heaven to be at hand means God has to be close by. Let's think on this and see who all Jesus healed, with either a touch or a word. The only people Jesus couldn't minister to were those who live in unbelief, or weren't looking for the "suffering servant." The Pharisees and Sadducees were surely unable to see Jesus in the right manner because they wanted Jesus, the conquerer.

2) "Repent." In the Greek the word is "Metanoeite," which means repent/ance. This version of the word means "to come to a new mind." In other words, it is a turning around of having done something wrong. Case in point: when Jesus tells the parable of the Prodigal Son, he mentions a son who realizes how far he's fallen. He's basically in a pig sty, eating their food. He comes to his senses and reasons, "Surely, if I go home and present myself as a servant to my father, he will take me back in." He's had a huge change of heart. His mind has been renewed (or rather in this case he realizes also how much he stinks; synonym: repentance).

The big thing here is to realize that if God is so unloving and harsh, how could He send His only Son, Jesus Christ, "to proclaim good news to the poor, freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free." Jesus even said that he did the will of the One who sent Him. After all, Jesus went to the cross, washing us clean of our sins, and therefore being presented blameless before the Father.

"Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship" (Romans 12:1, NASB).