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Repent = "Change your hearts and lives"

July 13, 2022

Daily Scripture

Matthew 3:1-8, 4:17, Acts 2:38

Matthew 3

1 In those days John the Baptist appeared in the desert of Judea announcing, 2 “Change your hearts and lives! Here comes the kingdom of heaven!” 3 He was the one of whom Isaiah the prophet spoke when he said:
The voice of one shouting in the wilderness,
“Prepare the way for the Lord;
make his paths straight” [Isaiah 40:3]
4 John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey.
5 People from Jerusalem, throughout Judea, and all around the Jordan River came to him. 6 As they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. 7 Many Pharisees and Sadducees came to be baptized by John. He said to them, “You children of snakes! Who warned you to escape from the angry judgment that is coming soon? 8 Produce fruit that shows you have changed your hearts and lives.

Matthew 4

17 From that time Jesus began to announce, “Change your hearts and lives! Here comes the kingdom of heaven!”

Acts 2

38 Peter replied, “Change your hearts and lives. Each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Matthew recapped both John the Baptist’s and Jesus’ preaching with the words, “Change your hearts and lives! Here comes the kingdom of heaven!” Translators often render the Greek (metanoia) behind “Change your hearts and lives” as “repent,” but we sometimes miss that word’s full meaning. “This is a call not merely for us to feel sorry for our sins or even just to accept forgiveness for them, but to choose a different and wiser course of living.” * Peter and the apostles preached that same message.

  • Matthew 4:23 characterized Jesus’ message in verse 17 as “the good news of the kingdom.” Praying (as we do in the Lord’s Prayer) “thy kingdom come” is not just a wispy, wistful dream of an idealized future. It is a claim of our true citizenship here and now, and a way of bowing to God as our true king. Can you identify one or two ways that belonging to God’s kingdom has reordered your life? Are there parts of life in which the call to reorder brings you hope, not uneasiness?
  • We see that John the Baptist bluntly challenged those who thought their ethnic or religious identity alone could keep them close to God. Have you ever known (or been) someone who hoped that family tradition or church affiliation could take the place of a life-changing personal connection with God? Do religious as well as non-religious and nominally religious people need to hear and heed John’s call to “change your hearts and lives”?

Lord Jesus, you, your forerunner John and your follower Peter all called people in their time to become citizens of “the kingdom of heaven.” Begin or enhance the life of my heart in your kingdom today. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Melanie Hill

Melanie Hill

Melanie Hill is the Adult Discipleship Director at the Leawood location of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.

(Travel plans kept Shannon from being able to write today. We’re grateful that Melanie was willing to write with only about a day’s notice.)

A short two weeks ago our family dropped off our son in Annapolis, Maryland for boot camp before he starts college. On June 30th he was sworn into the United State Naval Academy. It was a really proud moment for me as a mom, and also a rude awakening. We dropped him off at 7:30 a.m. and kissed him goodbye, and the minute he walked through the doors we could hear people start to yell at him. If you know me then you know my reaction was one part heartache, one part “good luck kid,” with a little “better you than me” mixed in. Throughout the day as we toured the Yard, we would catch glimpses of Midshipmen running here and there and the whole time being yelled at. For those of us who have never been a part of the military the amount of yelling might seem excessive, but it serves a goal–to instruct. And on another level to enthusiastically encourage.

It reminded me of the closest encounter I had to something similar–sports. Many of us have played sports (or participated in marching band, or dance, etc.) over the years, and we know that from time-to-time coaches yell. The best coaches don’t yell constantly, so that when they do they really get your attention. In high school my dad coached my basketball team. He didn’t yell a lot but, luckily for me, when he did yell at me, he used my full name. That got my attention. I knew when my middle name came out, he really wanted my attention.

I was thinking about this today as I read the Scripture passages. While John the Baptist’s style might not have been one I would respond well to today, he clearly got a lot of people’s attention. Jesus, later Peter, and many pastors since have repeated that language. My guess is that they had the same type of conversations over the dinner table, sitting around the fire, or walking along the road. They felt the need to use strong language to get their audiences’ attention.

If you’re a parent, you know what this is like. I like to think I only yell at my kids when it’s about something that is really important (it’s not true, but I like to think it). At least in the moment, it feels really important. You probably remember as a kid your own parents raising their voices to get your attention. Whether it’s a drill instructor, coach, parent or some other type of teacher, from time to time we need someone to grab our attention. I’m not talking about yelling that humiliates, demeans or is in anger. No, I’m talking about the voice of a coach who wants what’s best for you making sure you are getting it.

“Change your hearts and lives.” That’s a message that too often we let slip by or we assign its action to something else in our lives-–being part of the right group or the right church. John and Peter (and Jeus) want to make sure we get the message. The action lies with you. It’s easy to read that verse and just move on to the next, but we need to let it sink in and change us fundamentally from within. Change our hearts. Change our lives. Only then can we live fully into the life that God invites us into. My prayer for you and me this week is that these words capture our attention and we examine the change that needs to happen in our hearts and our minds.

© 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.

* Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, study note on Matthew 4:17 in The Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible. HarperSanFrancisco, 2005, p. 1799.