In Matthew 4, Jesus begins his ministry. His first act is to preach, and His first message is:
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Not necessarily a motivating message by today’s standards, or is it?
While many pastors desire to motivate their congregations to commit to Jesus with promises of health and wealth, Jesus motivates in a different way. Even though His call to repent and be His disciple is radical – He calls us to choose Him over our family, give Him the right to direct our career, our entire life, allowing Him to use us as His instruments for His purposes – it is worth it.
What is Our Motivation to Repent?
In the simple message Matthew records for us, Jesus provides us with motivation for why we should turn from our sins and become His disciple. “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” He proclaims, making the Kingdom of Heaven our motivation to repent.
Why is the Kingdom of Heaven a motivating factor?
(1) The Kingdom of Heaven is ruled by God Himself and is a perfect kingdom.
There is no injustice or unrighteousness in it, no oppression or poverty, no disease or sickness. It is a perfect kingdom. A kingdom for which we all long, and it is here now.
Jesus has come to put everything right. Where the fall marred the perfect kingdom as sin entered the world, hindering relationships and bringing death and disease, Jesus has come to set class struggle, family breakdown, disease, sickness, and death, right. He has come as the perfect King to establish a new and perfect kingdom. A king and kingdom for which we all long.
(2) All those not in the kingdom will be judged and sentenced to an eternity in hell.
John the Baptist is the forerunner of Jesus. His preaching minister preceded Jesus’, preparing the people for Jesus’ arrival. In his messages leading up to the ministry of Jesus, he provides us with our second motivation for repentance. He tells those who came out to him:
“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” (Matt. 3:11-12)
He pictures Jesus with a winnowing fork in hand separating the chaff from the wheat. The chaff is burned, while the wheat is put in the storehouse. John’s message tells us that those who do not repent will be sentenced to eternity in hell. While those who do repent, will experience eternal life with Jesus in His kingdom.
For at least those reasons, we are motivated to repent of our former way of life and turn to the Lord.
While the biblical motivation to repent differs from that of the world, it is right and good. So today, if you have never repented and turn to Jesus as your Savior, want you do so now? Turn from your sins toward the Lord. Call on Him as Lord and Savior. Submit to His rule over your life. Make the perfect King your King today!
Questions for Reflection
- Does knowing that Jesus is a perfect King who rules over a perfect Kingdom motivate you to follow Him?
- Can you think of other biblical motivations to repent?
- Can you think of other worldly motivations?