After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come, “he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me, “Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
Love and Forgiveness
There are many people who want to describe Jesus’ ministry in their own terms. Some focus on his love and use it to condone just about anything. Others focus on his forgiveness and rely on it to excuse every indiscretion and act of disobedience. But, how do I describe Jesus’ ministry? Actually, a better question might be, how should I describe Jesus’ ministry?
Mark provides a valuable description when he records a portion of Jesus’ early ministry in Galilee. Three words stand out: repent, believe, and follow.
Repentance is turning away from sin and returning to the Lord. Certainly I can be sorry, but repentance takes on a greater sense of urgency. I must realize that I have sinned against God and humbly confess my disobedience. Jesus’ ministry calls me to repent daily and sincerely.
Jesus also invited people to believe the good news, the good news that by his life, death and resurrection he rescued sinners from their guilt and punishment. When I turn from sin in repentance, my first and only, response is to turn to him. I am filled with peace and joy to hear that good news of forgiveness which Jesus not only secured, but which he also freely offers through faith.
As I receive his undeserved love through faith, I also receive the invitation to follow him. Jesus didn’t forgive me so that I could go on with my life as I please. He provided me with his mercy, so I could follow him and serve him in love and obedience. Jesus’ ministry is, and always will be about the change he works in me. He gives me life when I was dead. He gives me sight when I was blind. He gives me faithfulness when I was rebellious.
Certainly love and forgiveness would be two proper ways to describe Jesus’ ministry, but it would leave much to my personal interpretation. A better description is repent, believe and follow. In these I experience his undeserved love and forgiveness. Through these I acknowledge he is my Lord and my Savior.
O dearest Jesus, I thank you for coming into the world to be my Savior. At your invitation lead me to repent of my sins, hear the good news of my forgiveness, and follow you—faithfully, willingly and joyfully. Amen.
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