14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” – Mark 1:14-15
Mark introduces us to Jesus’ first sermon in verse 15. It is short and simple. Jesus says, “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”. We have two statements of fact made by Jesus. He claims that the time has come and that the kingdom of God is at hand. He follows that up with two calls to action. Repent and then believe in the Gospel. In his assertion that the time is fulfilled, we have the sense that God’s plan is coming to fruition. If history does indeed unfold under the Sovereignty of God, then the time has come for his plan to move on to the next step.
The question is, what does the next step look like? Mark tells us that the plan is that God’s Kingdom has come near. Perhaps a better translation might be that it “has begun to arrive.” Because God’s kingdom has begun to arrive, Jesus preaches, as John did earlier in the chapter, that people need to repent.
Generally, the word repent means to change your mind. Μετανοεω, the Greek word used in this verse has been understood by the Christian community as a whole to mean, “to change the mind.” When we think of the word repent, we sometimes liken it to offering an apology when we have done something wrong. An apology is part of repentance, but it is really only the beginning. Repentance is a change of behaviors, attitudes, and ideas.
Repentance is really a transformation of a person’s life. When we repent, it isn’t just saying that we are sorry and then moving on to something else. Biblical repentance means that our life changes. A person that repents says that they are sorry and then takes steps to not do the sinful behavior again. Ultimately, Jesus’ command to repent isn’t asking for people to say they are sorry for the bad things they have done. He is actually telling them that their lives need to change. The way they have been living is contrary to the way God would have them live. He is asking them to give up those things that are contrary to God’s plan for them and to live differently.
Jesus then moves from repentance to “and believe the Gospel”. The Gospel means good news and the good news is that God and His kingdom are near. Mark’s Gospel will go on to further clarify what that all means for the believer by highlighting who Jesus is and what exactly He came to do. If you are just starting out on your faith journey, I highly recommend reading through the Gospel of Mark.
Understanding repentance is a key part of understanding how to live out your faith. If we don’t get that right, we will continue to struggle with the sin in our life. We must take a posture of humility, ask God to show us the areas in our life that require repentance, confess and seek forgiveness from God, and then take the necessary steps to change our behavior.
Questions for Reflection:
What does repentance mean to you?
What does it mean to you to be part of the Kingdom of God?
What is the Gospel (good news) and how does it affect how you live your life.