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Yeshua in Context » Applying the Gospels, Discipleship - Formation, Forgiveness of Sins, Judaism Today & Yeshua, Preachable Points, Teaching of Yeshua » Yeshua On Repentance

Yeshua On Repentance

When he came to his senses he said, “How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger!”
-Luke 15:17

Yeshua dined with sinners. Those of us who eat bread with him today are infinitely thankful for this. It is not, contra E.P. Sanders, that Yeshua offered the kingdom without repentance or light without trial.

Those who dined with Yeshua did not think this is what he was offering. One said, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I give to the poor” (Luke 19:8).

Yeshua is at once inviting and imposing, welcoming and formidable. You may be to him the hundredth sheep, the one rejoiced over that was lost, or a whitewashed tomb. You may hear from him, “your faith has made you well,” or, “depart from me; I never knew you.”

No area of life is too small to be under God’s observation, not even the falling of a sparrow (Luke 12:6). So the way we deal with our fellow human beings is paramount. Don’t bother to offer great things to God if you are not willing to clear up offenses with people (Matt 5:23). Your love for others most likely follows the pattern of all creatures, loving those you need to love you back. But God has a higher requirement, so that we aspire to love even those who despise us (Matt 5:44). We do not aim high enough since the correct objective is to be like God in perfection (Matt 5:48).

We are apt to repent incorrectly by demeaning others in order to exalt ourselves in God’s presence. Our eye is on our peers and outdistancing them. “Thank you that I am not like other people,” we say (Luke 18:11).

It would be better if we knew ourselves to be out and out sinners. Then we would say, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” and beat our chests (Luke 18:13).

The power of repentance is not in outdistancing our peers, but in God’s love for the humble (Luke 18:14). It is in God’s joy over lost ones found (Luke 15:7). It is in our consuming desire to be nearer to him. It may be the desire for food that brings us his way (“you seek me . . . because you ate of the loaves and were filled,” John 6:26). He says even to those who come on such a basis, “The one who comes to me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37).

But eventually we realize “it is the Spirit who gives life” and “the flesh profits nothing” (John 6:63). And we say, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

Repentance becomes the ever-liberating way of life. “He who loves his life loses it” (John 12:25). It is better to enter life missing an eye or a hand (Matt 18:9). We practice our repentance before the Father in secret (Matt 6:1). And our prayer is that God will forgive us as we forgive others (Matt 6:12). We cannot seize those who owe us and choke them for every penny when we are forgiven much (Matt 18:28).

Rather, being forgiven much, we love much (Luke 7:47).

We repent often with watchfulness since “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38). We don’t settle until we rid ourselves of all disdain, since “everyone who is angry with his brother will be guilty before the court” (Matt 5:22). We give up control so that we “do not resist him who is evil” but turn the other cheek (Matt 5:39). We give our tzedakah (alms) and lay up real treasures where God is (Matt 6:3, 20).

Being good trees, we bear good fruit (Matt 7:17). We do not attempt to dominate but to serve everyone (Mark 10:42-43).

Yeshua dines with sinners. He transforms those of us who dine with him. He promises, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be filled” (Matt 5:6).

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Filed under: Applying the Gospels, Discipleship - Formation, Forgiveness of Sins, Judaism Today & Yeshua, Preachable Points, Teaching of Yeshua

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