In ancient times, the Hebrew prophet Jonah was sent to Ninevah, the capitol of Assyria, one of the most powerful nations in the Middle East, to warn them that unless they repented of their sins, God would destroy them. The people believed the prophet, from the lowliest of them all the way up to the king. Jonah records that ...
"The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes." Jonah 3:6
Can you imagine the head of any rich and powerful nation doing this today, especially if the warning came from a foreigner? Yet the king's unconditional repentance and self-abasement saved his people. Changing one's ways comes at a high cost, yet what is gained is far better. This is not always easy to see, however, as one young man discovered in Jesus' day. He thought he might like to be a follower of Jesus, yet when Jesus presents him with the cost of discipleship, he changes his mind. The apostle Luke records this exchange between Jesus and the young man.
Jesus: "You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.'" And [the young man] said, "All these I have kept from my youth." When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Luke 18:20-23
Repentance comes at a cost ... the unconditional surrender of our sinful ways, and our love for the world, in exchange for obedience to Jesus Christ. Though to us this seems like God is asking a lot, it is nothing compared to what Jesus surrendered on the cross where, hour after hour, he suffered unspeakable agonies to pay for our sins and save us from death. He gave his last breath for us, that we might enjoy the joys and riches of life in a new world. Come and hear more this Sunday at 10:30 a.m.
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