From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Mt 4:17
Those were the first ministry words of Jesus. Repent. From that time on, the bible says, Jesus preached, and He always preached the same thing: the Kingdom of God and the repentance required to enter it. After Jesus was gone, the message remained the same. "What must we do"? they asked Peter. And Peter answered as Jesus had taught him, "Repent." The message is very simple: we are sinners, born that way. We must repent and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, forgiver of our sins. Then we can enter Paradise.
What is repentance? It means to turn away from your sins, confess them, and looking to Jesus, ask Him to forgive them. A 180 degree turn. Not a sinner you say? You are a pretty good person? Have you ever lied? Sure. Stolen? Likely. Lusted? Of course. Sinner.
Anyone who sins cannot enter the kingdom of God. God is Holy and as such, cannot be near to sin. So we have a sin problem. However, God in His mercy made a way. Jesus died on the cross and took on our sins. All sin, past, present, and future Yours and mine, being the offering to God as the sinless lamb. Now all we need to do is accept His sacrifice and believe in His cross as the bridge to get over the gap that exists between sin and God.
Two very famous, iconic photos illustrate what repentance is, and what repentance can do. In 2004 on Boxing Day there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean. The 9.1 mega earthquake was the strongest ever recorded by seismographs. The entire earth vibrated 1cm. The energy released from the quake was stronger than all the explosions in WWII, including the two atomic bombs. The energy release sparked a tsunami which affected 15 countries, killing or injuring over 2 million people. The following is a still taken from a video shot from a second story restaurant overlooking the beach at Khao Lak, Thailand. A man is seen standing alone on the beach, with his back to the massive wave that is about to engulf him. He never turned around, so he never knew what was to hit him. He is swept away and died instantly.
Tienanmen Square, China. When a beloved pro-democracy and anti-corruption official died, people wanted to mourn him. They gathered in Tienanmen Square and soon, be the eve of his funeral, over a million people had collected. The mourning continued for seven weeks, escalating into protests. Chinese officials let the protests go on only so long before cruelly and crushing them. One day, tanks showed up and cleared the people out with force. Many killed and injured. This man, never identified, stood with his briefcase in front of a line of reinforced tanks, facing down evil with a look.
Look away from Jesus and any old wave will sweep you to your destruction. If that Tsunami Man had just turned around, he would have seen the destruction coming at him. Please, turn from sin, look to Jesus for forgiveness. He will strengthen and help you. You will even be able to look full in the face of evil, and it will stop in its tracks. You will be an overcomer.
Will you make that 180 degree turn? Will you repent, turning AWAY from the destructive wave of sin engulfing your life, and turn TO Jesus, through Whom you can do all things? Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.