How many Lutherans does it take to change a light bulb? Lutherans change? The Greek word for repent means “change your mind.” Changing anything, especially one’s mind, can be a challenge. For John the Baptizer, to repent meant to confess sins, be baptized as a visible sign and to live a life that bears fruit. For Jesus, to repent means to live a new life in the kingdom of God. For both John and Jesus, to repent means a change in attitude and action.
Change of heart, attitude and action is not brought about by human effort or desire. Repentance is a gift from God. Change for the sake of change is hardly a sufficient motivation. The kingdom of God come near gives both motivation for and means of repentance. Some saw the coming of God as bringing judgment. Some saw the coming kingdom as bringing glory to a nation of people. Others were not and are not certain what the coming kingdom means.
Both John the Baptizer and Jesus call for repentance “for the kingdom has come near.” This is a call to be changed, not to avoid judgment, but to be changed for new life by the God who came to live among us.
Lord God, continue to prepare us to repent in thought, word and action that bears witness to your grace and presence. Amen. — JW