So it’s been quite some time since any of us has posted here on the Visible Church. While thinking about what to share today, I was taken by the profound nature of the beginning of Jesus’ ministry on earth. He had just been baptized by John the Baptist, then led into the wilderness by the Spirit for the purpose of being tempted by the devil.
As Jesus began His earthly ministry, His opening message mirrored that of His forerunner, John the Baptist: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” There are two components to this simple message, repentance and the coming of the kingdom. Leon Morris gives some helpful insight to the conversation:
“Jesus began with the same emphasis as John the Baptist had. The two go together: if the kingdom of God is near, then clearly people cannot be complacent. They must prepare for that kingdom, and that means repenting of their sins. Jesus calls on them to realize that they are unfit for the kingdom of heaven and to repent accordingly. Such preaching is a clarion call to action, not a recipe for slothful complacency. We should not overlook the importance of this call to repentance at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry; everything else follows from that. Matthew has often been seen as one who stresses the importance of good works, and of course he does. But this must not be held in such a form that his emphasis on grace is missed. From the beginning Jesus took it for granted that people are sinners, and accordingly his first message was that they must repent. Only so would they know the forgiveness He came to bring.”
This message of repentance rings true for us today as well. The kingdom of heaven is indeed at hand and we can ill afford to sit idly by and do nothing. The church must be visible.