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Repent—“change your hearts and lives”

March 6, 2023

Daily Scripture

Mark 1:4, 14-15

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!”

Click here to view the first of our Lenten videos, by Pastor Valerie Vogt.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

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.

  • The Old Testament prophet Joel called the people of his day to change direction (cf. Joel 2:12-13). “Joel urges people to make sincere and lasting changes and not simply outward signs.” * That was also a key to the message Jesus, John the Baptist and the apostles preached. In your experience, what’s the difference between simply trying to sound sorry and genuinely choosing to change? What are some of the chief ways Jesus has led you to change your heart and life?
  • Scholar N. T. Wright described the people who first heard John’s and Jesus’ preaching: “Many had wanted a Messiah to lead them against the Romans, but they weren’t anticipating a prophet telling them to repent…. It was time to turn round and go the right way (that’s what ‘repentance’ means). It was time to stop dreaming and wake up to God’s reality.” ** In what ways does honoring God as king lead you to let God, not your own wishes, direct your life?

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.

GPS Insights

Karra Karst

Karra Karst

Karra Karst serves on the Adult Discipleship team at Church of the Resurrection--all locations. When not at work, you can find her adventuring with her husband, Stephen, and dog, Rosey. She enjoys a good joke as much as she does her daily iced latte.

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.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* 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.