The Life of Repentance
September 25, 2022
Last week we talked about the significance of the book of Zechariah. The book was important to Israel because of its role in calling the nation to complete the rebuilding of the temple after returning from its 70 year exile in Babylon. But it was also important because of its explanation of the Messiah and the (confident) hope that He would reign on His throne in Jerusalem. One commentator noted about Zechariah that it is “the most Messianic, the most truly apocalyptic and eschatological, of all the writings of the Old Testament.” That makes it even more appealing for us.
As you think about the ministry of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, how might you condense His message? What is the distillation of all that He said and taught in the four Gospels? Perhaps a consideration of His first and last words might help us:
- “Now when Jesus heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee…From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Mt. 4:12, 17)
- “…and He said to them [the 12], ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.’” (Lk. 24:46–49)
Among the first and last words that Jesus spoke was the message of repentance. He came to liberate sinners from sin and He died to loose the binding chains of sin and Hell from repentant sinners. The Christian life is a life predicated on repentance. It’s that principle that transformed the life of Martin Luther and set the course of the Reformation. The Christian life is not a life of penance — making up for our sins by our vain attempts at doing good deeds; rather, “Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ in saying: ‘Repent,’ intended that the whole life of believers should be repentance.”
The Christian life begins with repentance and it consists of ongoing repentance. This has been the principle of God’s followers not only since the time of Christ, but all through biblical history. So as Zechariah begins his call to the returned nation to finish the task of rebuilding the temple, the first thing he says to them is “repent.” His first admonition is a call to repentance. It was the starting point of their spiritual life and transformation — just as it is still the starting point of our spiritual life and transformation.
We might summarize what Zechariah says in the opening six verses of the book this way:
The blessings of God’s promises are conditioned on repentance.
This morning, we want to consider five attributes of repentance:
- The Right of the Prophet to Call for Repentance (v. 1)
- The Need for Repentance (v. 2)
- The Blessing of Repentance (v. 3)
- The Danger of Unrepentance (vv. 4-5)
- The Right of God to Call for Repentance (v. 6)
Download the rest of this sermon on Zechariah 1:1-6.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.