January 3: Matthew 3
Genesis 3; Matthew 3; Ezra 3; Acts 3
Matthew records John the Baptist’s ministry in this chapter. His message begins with a simple command, “Repent” (2). We should first define the word, explain the “why”, and then consider one principle at play here.
The original word for repent literally means a “turn of mind,” but the implication is that what happens in the mind directs concrete action in real life. John’s reason for why his hearers should repent gives us more insight into its meaning. Israel should repent because its King is coming. It was common in those days, when a king would visit an area, to literally straighten out the roads that he would travel.
But this King is coming for our hearts. The great question is whether Israel will believe and receive this King or not. Thus John’s logic is this: repent, for this King is both your Judge and your Blessing. Repent, from the ways that he will find displeasing when he comes, and repent, that there might not be any stumbling blocks to your receiving this Blessing.
Thus this repentance is a ceasing of that which we know to be wrong, to be against this King’s law, and it is a shifting of allegiance, from ourselves or someone or something else, to a humble submission to Him, as King.
This brings us to a crucial principle that’s in play here. People who do not know Christ will often tell me, I just can’t believe yet, because I can’t let go of this or that sin that I love. But what they don’t realize is that sin has a darkening, blinding effect on our souls. The reason they don’t believe is that that sin is like an octopus, that ejects blinding ink into the water of their soul. As long as that octopus is there, they won’t be able to see and believe Christ. They’re ensuring their own demise.
The same principle applies to you, Christian. Are you in a place where you find worship dull and lifeless? Do you have a tepid desire for worship? It may very well be that your consumption of sinful media is dulling your desire for God. That show you watched on Saturday was doing more than entertain you - it was catechizing you, and shaping your heart, to desire that which is anti-God. And you didn’t even realize it.
Thus John the Baptist speaks to us today, too: repent, in order to prepare the way of the Lord.
Practically speaking, consider what you might “delete” from your life, and what you might add back in its place. Instead of movies, why not start your Sabbath on Saturday, and enjoy good food and fun with other Christians?
Regardless: make his paths straight.