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Epiphany 3

January 22, 2017 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Epiphany

Passage: Matthew 4:12–4:25

†††In the Name of Jesus†††

Pastor Murray Keith

Text: Matthew 4:12-25
Date: January 22, 2017; Epiphany 3; Series A

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Over the last few weeks in the season of Epiphany the Bible readings we’ve heard show how it has been clearly revealed that Jesus Christ of Nazareth is the promised Messiah, the promised Saviour of the world.

It was revealed at Jesus’ Baptism when God the Holy Spirit descended and rested on Jesus in the form of a dove.

Then God the Father’s voice declared from heaven, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).

John the Baptist declared in our Gospel lesson from last week, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

It has been clearly revealed that Jesus is the promised Messiah and now it’s time for Jesus’ ministry to begin - and this is where our Gospel lesson for today picks up.

And it’s interesting to note that Jesus begins his ministry by echoing the words of John the Baptist when he said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).

Repent is the first very first thing that Jesus tells people to do.

Obviously repentance is important, so it is worthwhile to consider what it means.

One way to describe repentance is to say that it is a turning away from one thing to another.

It’s kind of like driving a car and making a U-turn, you make a 180-degree turn so that you’re headed in the opposite direction from where you were going.

When Jesus tells us to repent, he is calling us to make a 180-degree turn from anything in our lives that has us going in the opposite direction of himself and the salvation we have in him.

And we wrestle with many things in life that can get us going in the wrong direction - moving away from our Lord.

We replace God with the things of this world. Our focus shifts to having the newest and best of everything; our hobbies, our next vacation, and even planning our children’s activities becomes all-consuming.

We replace God’s Will for our lives with our own will - our own wants and desires; our own philosophies and religions.

We end up heading in the wrong direction, and before we know it, God is no longer first in our lives but is only seen far off in our rear view mirror.

To this, Jesus says, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).

We get going in the wrong direction as we become entangled in sin.

What seems to start off as a small sin can, over time, lead us to something far more serious.

It doesn’t take much for us to end up lost in addictions and other behaviour that causes harm to us and those around us.

Instead of loving our neighbours, we end up feeling jealousy over the things they have that we don’t.

Our anger grows as they do things that get under our skin.

Their needs are inconvenient or even burdensome, and we come to resent those we are supposed to care for.

Our sinful hearts lead us to stray further and further away from God.

To this, Jesus says, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).

These are words of warning.

Do not become comfortable in your sin. Do not become comfortable in anything that has you going in the wrong direction, in anything that is causing separation between you and God.

Have a look at the path you’re heading down - look into the mirror of God’s Law so that you can see where you have gone off course, where you have been led astray.

Spend some time looking into the mirror of the Ten Commandments, they’re a good place to start.

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).

These are words of warning.

But they are also words of promise. They are words of comfort, peace, and hope!

The kingdom of heaven is at hand. This means that the time of salvation is now.

In a very real way, the kingdom of heaven is at hand in Christ Jesus.

The Way of salvation has entered into the world, as we have heard in our Bible readings through the seasons of Advent, Christmas, and now Epiphany.

As we move through the year into Lent and Easter, we will continue to hear how that Way of salvation, Jesus Christ, has done everything necessary for us so that we may enter the kingdom of heaven.

The kingdom of heaven is at hand and our sin is forgiven because of Jesus.

Repentance not only involves making a 180-degree turn from your sin, it also includes believing in and receiving the forgiveness, salvation, and gift of eternal life that has been won for you in Christ Jesus.

Repentance is an act of faith.

To repent is to turn from your sin, but it is also to trust in Jesus who turned to you first.

Our Lord saw you in your sin and death, and in his love for you, did everything necessary to save you from it.

Jesus could have easily turned from the pain, punishment, and death that he experienced - but he didn’t.

He faced it head on and endured it for you. He would not turn his back on you.

He first turned to you in your Baptism. There he called you by name, washed you of your sins, and made his gift of salvation personally yours.

Christ Jesus now calls you to repent, to turn from your sin, and return to him at the Sacrament of the Altar. There he gives his own body and blood to feed and nourish your faith so that you are certain of the forgiveness, salvation, and life that he has won for you.

Repentance is to recognize your sin and to do a 180-degree turn from it.

But repentance does not stop there.

It also includes trusting that Jesus has forgiven all of your sin because of his life, death, and resurrection.

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).

Thanks be to God! Amen.

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen

More in Epiphany

February 11, 2018

The Transfiguration of Our Lord

February 4, 2018

Fifth Sunday after Epiphany

January 28, 2018

Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany