Jesus Returned to Galilee in the Power of the Spirit, News About Him Spread Through the Country

Mark 1:14-15 and Luke 4:14-15

DIG: Compare Luke 3:21, 4:1, 14 and 18. What is the common element in each of these verses? What does this tell us about the source of Jesus’ power? Is repentance the same thing as salvation? Why, or why not?

REFLECT: If the apostles show what it means to repent (Hebrew: to turn or return) and believe, where are you: (a) still fishing? (b) keeping the old business going and spending nights and weekends with Yeshua? (c) swimming ashore? Explain.

Yochanan the Baptizer was the forerunner to the King because he heralded a “back to God movement.” It was essentially a message of repentance, and was the central message of Messiah’s entire earthly ministry. The word repent was His one word sermon. The maverick Rabbi would stand boldly before the stiff-necked multitudes and declare: Unless you repent, you will all perish (Luke 13:5). The Good News according to Jesus is as much a call to repent or turn from sin, as it is an invitation to believe. The word repent is translated from the Hebrew word shuwb, which is the key word in the book of Jeremiah (see my commentary on Jeremiah Ac – The Introduction to the Book of Jeremiah).

After John was put in prison, Jesus returned into Galilee in the power of the Spirit, proclaiming the Good News of God. “The time has come,” He said. “The kingdom of God has come near.” So news about Him spread everywhere, through the whole countryside (Mark 1:14; Luke 4:14) this was the official offer of the messianic Kingdom if the nation of Isra’el and its leadership, or the Sanhedrin, would accept Him.

He was teaching in their synagogues: Repent and believe the Good News (Mark 1:15; Luke 4:15). What is repentance? It is the critical element of saving faith, but one must never dismiss it as simply another word for believe. On the one hand, true repentance always exists with faith; on the other hand, whenever there is true faith, there is also genuine repentance . . . the two cannot be separated. Such repentance is what Rabbi Sha’ul had in mind when he described the actions of the Thessalonians . . . You turned to God from idols, to serve the true God, the One who is alive (First Thess 1:9 CJB). Notice the three elements of repentance: turning to God, turning away from sin, and the intent to serve God. The simple truth is that a changed mind will result in changed behavior.

Repentance is not merely being ashamed or sorry about sinning, although genuine repentance always involves an element of remorse. It is a purposeful decision to turn your back on unrighteousness and pursue righteousness instead. Nor is repentance simply a human work. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so than no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is not merely a mental activity, but involves the intellect, will and emotions.

Emotions are a part of repentance, but they do not lead the way. Many think that they have to feel something before they can be saved. But it is important to understand that our emotions are the caboose, not the engine. The emotions will come, but they will not, and should not, lead the way. Being remorseful about what you have done in your life is not, in and of itself, true repentance. Judas, for example, felt remorse (Matthew 27:3), but he was not repentant. The rich young ruler went away sorrowfully (Mt 19:22), but he was not repentant. Repentance is not salvation . . . it leads to salvation. Second Corinthians 7:10 says: Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. It is hard to imagine being truly repentant without at least an element of sorrow – not for getting caught, not sadness because of consequences that must be faced, but a sense of sorrow for having sinned against God. Repentance changes the core of who you are.375

Repentance is not a one-time act. It begins at conversion (see Bw – What God Does for Us at the Moment of Faith), and begins a progressive, life-long process of being conformed into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). This continuous attitude of repentance produces poverty of spirit, mourning, and meekness spoken of by Yeshua in the Sermon on the Mount (see Da – The Sermon on the Mount). It is the mark of a true believer.

What about those who say they are believers, yet are really wolves in sheep’s clothing (see my commentary on Jude Ah – Godless People Have Secretly Slipped In Among You)? Did they lose their salvation? No, heaven forbid (see Ms – The Eternal Security of the Believer). John said it this way: They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us in the first place (First John 2:19). They were really never believers to begin with. So how can we tell who is a believer and who is not?

If repentance is genuine, we can expect it to produce observable results. We are not to judge others, but we are supposed to be fruit inspectors (see my commentary on Jude As – They are Autumn Trees without Fruit, Wild Waves of the Sea Foaming Up Their Shame, Wandering Stars). Jesus said it this way: Beware of false believers. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Like every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them (Matthew 7:15-20). There were those in the Lord’s day, and there are those today who turn their backs on sin, unbelief and disobedience, and embrace Messiah with a faith that obeys. Theirs is true repentance, demonstrated by the righteousness it produces. They are the truly righteous. And that was Christ’s ultimate aim when He returned into Galilee in the power of the Spirit, proclaiming the Good News of God.376


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