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4 John the Baptist was in the wilderness calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins.
14 After John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee announcing God’s good news, 15 saying, “Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!”
The gospels used the Greek word metanoia for both John the Baptist’s and Jesus’ message. It meant literally “turn around, change direction.” It’s most often translated “repent”—the Common English Bible rendered it as “change your hearts and lives.” In any language, Jesus called (and calls) people, not to a one-time feeling, but to a serious, continual choice to live his way. Jesus linked that to God’s “kingdom” arriving, based on passages like Psalm 99:1-5 that saw God as the true king over all.
Lord God, if I try to fool myself (or you) with fine words while my heart remains unchanged, you see right through me. By your Spirit, move me to yearn for a new heart and a faithful spirit deep inside me. Amen.
If John the Baptist was here now, I think he would be all over our social media. The ‘retweeting’ or sharing of a TikTok video of his words would be on everyone’s screen. He saw himself as the predecessor for Jesus, but people probably had strong opinions about his radical call to invite them into a serious living-out of their faith. Likely he would have had a large following on his account, but with that would have come many who weren’t fans. We see in Luke 3 that some of John’s followers speculated John might be the Christ, the one they had been promised for so many years. John the Baptist was good–but Jesus was great.
It’s easy to read Mark 1:15 solely as meaning to “change my heart and life” means that I need to remove something negative: a destructive way of life, a bad habit, or course correction for good. But what if we used John the Baptist and Jesus model, and sometimes the change isn’t from a negative thing, but a good thing? Every day we are faced with choices, and it’s not always bad versus good. Sometimes it is good to great!
Change can be difficult. We are creatures of routine and habit, no matter how adventurous we might be. Whether we currently face big decisions or the smallest of them, we can ask ourselves a few questions:
–“What would it look like to change my heart in this season?”
–“What will I be leaving (or gaining) if I were to change this part of my life?”
–“What are the steps I will take to make this a lasting choice to live this way?”
I hope you’ll prayerfully consider these questions as we continue to journey through this Lenten season. I know that God is before you as you step into this new direction.
* J. Andrew Dearman, study note on Joel 2:13 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 1449 OT.
** Wright, N. T., Mark for Everyone (New Testament for Everyone) (p. 1). SPCK. Kindle Edition.