“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Jesus (Mark 1:15)
There’s a common misconception that the gospel goes something like this: “Be sorry for the bad stuff you’ve done and accept Jesus’ forgiveness and you can go to heaven when you die.” Obviously, this is a different “gospel” than what Jesus announced. In this alternative, repentance has been replaced with remorse and God’s kingdom replaced with forgiveness and heaven.
To understand the new life offered us in Jesus Christ, we must begin with a better understanding of repentance in the context of God’s story. While the gospel certainly includes moral implications, it is not primarily a moral issue. It’s about kingdom. It’s about the restoration and renewal of the plans God had for creation all along.
God created everything. The pinnacle of creation was humanity. We were created in God’s image to reflect his likeness throughout creation. We were created to govern creation on God’s behalf and according to his will. Finally, we were to propagate God’s blessing throughout creation.
At the fall, these plans went horribly awry. But just when all hope seemed to be lost, Jesus came announcing and manifesting the gospel: God’s plan was getting back on track in and through him. He was the quintessential human, the Son of man. He perfectly represented and redeemed humanity. He submitted to God’s will and participated in the restoration of the kingdom. He blessed all of creation. And in Jesus, God was made known to the world.
With this context in mind, we’re in a much better place to grasp the meaning and implications of the repentance:
- Rethinking – A new way of thinking & perceiving based on what has taken place in Jesus Christ: the nearness of God’s kingdom and anticipation of its fulfillment at Jesus’ return. A new worldview.
- Responding – A new way of living because of the circumstances in which we now find ourselves – Jesus has become King, and the full manifestation of his kingdom is on the way.
Here’s how we might paraphrase Mark 1:15 to better understand repentance in the context of Jesus’ gospel:
“God’s plan is getting back on track. I’m becoming King. So you’re going to have to rethink everything and learn to live differently in response to the circumstances in which you now find yourself.”
- What do you need to rethink in light of what has taken place in and through Jesus?
- What step/s might you take to live in response to the circumstances in which you now find yourself?