Let’s return to the gospels as we conclude our consideration of the importance of repentance.
In a previous post, it was noted that Jesus began his ministry with the message John the Baptist had been preaching: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matthew 4:17, NIV)
He continued his message of repentance with the powerful parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God I thank you that I am not like other people–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector…But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14)
When Jesus was criticized for dining with sinners, he once again held up the importance of repentance by turning the organized religion of his day on its head: “But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?’ Jesus answered them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.'” (Luke 5:30-32)
And perhaps to leave no doubt about the importance of repentance, Jesus says in Luke 13:5: “But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
Repentance is by no means a once a year occurrence. It’s something that should occur every day.