Saturday, October 29, 2011

Repent & Receive (Mt 3:1-6)

Matt 3:1-6 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: "A voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'" John's clothes were made of camel's hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.

John the Baptist must have looked like an eccentric mystic living  at the fringe of the city & desert. His dressing was different (clothes made from camel's hair with a leather belt to hold it together) and so was his diet (locusts & wild honey). Yet, people went out to him from Jerusalem (town folks) and all Judea (country folks), including the whole region of Jordan. They came to listen to his compelling message: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."

In a sense, the eccentricity of John the Baptist might have initially drawn the crowds (God's marketing strategy!). But in the end they heard his message. Sometime Christians need to do something "creative" to draw the crowds. God did it, so we must not think it's "carnal" or "worldly" to use creative means to motivate people to come and experience God.

The burden of John's message was: "The kingdom of heaven is near. So repent!" There are two parts to his message: (1) repent and (2) receive! We cannot receive from God unless we repent of self. We need to let go of the old to lay hold of the new. We need to release the past to inherit the future. We can't have the cake and eat it. So, we have to repent (turn away) from glitters of this present world in order to receive the gold of the world to come!

All who believed in John's message were baptized by him as a sign of their repentance from self-centred lifestyle to prepare for membership in the coming Kingdom. While it's unclear if they fully comprehended the nature of the imminent Kingdom, their hearts were moved and they were ready to receive it when it come.

Thank You Jesus that we are now citizens of the Kingdom through Jesus Christ our Lord and King. May this Kingdom rise up within us and may Your kingdom come and Your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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