Why Does Jesus Say We Need to Repent?



What did Jesus? The first words of Jesus preached are “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). These are the exact words of John the Baptizer in 3:2. This is also the message of the Old Testament prophets who called Israel to return to God’s commandments.

Jeremiah 26:13 (ESV)
Now therefore mend your ways and your deeds, and obey the voice of the LORD your God, and the LORD will relent of the disaster that he has pronounced against you.

Mark characterizes Jesus’ message as “the gospel of God” and joins repentance with believing the gospel.

Mark 1:14-15 (ESV)
14  Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15  and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

The Greek word for repent is metanoeite, it is an imperative verb – a command, and a second person plural verb – all y’all repent.


Repentance is necessary for salvation

Luke 13:3 (ESV) No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

 Why repent? The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

The word for “at hand” is in the perfect tense, which means that it has fully come, not that it is coming. It is now here. We leave in the parentheses between kingdom inaugurated and kingdom consummated. Kingdom initiated, and kingdom actualized. Already and not-yet.

The kingdom of heaven brings both blessing and judgment

Matthew 13:24-30 (ESV)
24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field,
25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.
26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also.
27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’
28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’
29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them.
30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”


We dwell in the darkness of death’s shadow

God’s kingdom has come and brings judgment

Jesus shines the light into darkness through the gospel

Believe the gospel, turn from sin, and turn to Christ!


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