The danger of being unrepentant.


Then He began to denounce the cities where most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent.”

 This verse tells us several things. The goal of Jesus’ works was repentance and salvation. This means that in all of Jesus’ mighty works, compassion and mercy were always at work. Jesus desired the salvation of the people. He desired that they would turn to God from their wickedness and unbelief. His mighty works were irrefutable proof of who He was and of the truth of His message (otherwise His denouncing of the people would have been unfair). The people should have repented and were without any excuse for not repenting. And this means that the people certainly could have repented if they had wanted to repent, without anything at all to stop them. And yet when confronted with the evidence of a compassionate and merciful Messiah, they refused to repent.

 

Change is hard sometimes and we are tempted to continue on with our usual behavior. True learning results in changed behavior. Christ shares that He had the experience of being unable to change the behavior of the people in some of the villages where He had been because they were closed to Him. How frustrating this must have been for Christ, as shown in today’s Gospel! Christ is not asking us today to run around in sackcloth and ashes. What He really wants is for us to turn to Him with our true attention, love, and fidelity. Christ loves each of us as individuals and He knows what He can do for us and for others through us, if we just give Him our love and attention. Are we blocking that possibility through some behavior of our own?

 

At its heart repentance is a turn. A change of heart and a change of ways. By God’s grace some will repent. Because of their obstinacy others will not. Repentance is an act of man, but also a gift of God’s sovereign grace. As such it is a saving grace which only God can give. Do you have this grace of repentance? Esau may have sought repentance, but he did not have it, because though he grieved he sought to comfort himself by killing his brother! “Godly grief produces repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”  Do you have this grace of repentance? It is the mark of a believer—you have a soft heart, a heart that will grieve over sin, and turn from it. Repentance is the mark of a person who truly knows and receives God’s kindness. “God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.” Christ showed the people of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum the kind works of His kingdom, and in this passage He tells you His is a kingdom characterized by repentance. And He warns you of the danger of being unrepentant.

 

Brothers and sisters, we are objects of God’s mercy – a mercy that was absolutely sovereign and free. God saved us when we were hating Him. When God saved us, we were His declared enemies. God would have been just and right to harden our hearts by withholding from us even the means of salvation and leaving us in our sinful ignorance. We were no more likely candidates for salvation than anyone else in the world. We are debtors to mercy alone – a mercy that was absolutely sovereign and free. If this doesn’t kill and mortify our pride and produce in all of us a true humility, then nothing ever will. The fact that we have been shown mercy should be one of our greatest motivations to share the good news of that mercy with others. The fact that God saves at all means that He is able to save anyone. If you have not yet repented, God is able to save you. So repent and believe in Jesus, and in the death that He died in the place of sinners like you and me. But if you refuse to repent… woe to you! It will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for those who have never heard than for you.

God bless you.

 

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