Some of Jesus’ last words to his disciples before he ascended into heaven were that repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all nations. (Lk24:47)
But what is special about preaching repentance as opposed to proclaiming it or offering it or stating it as a fact?
I just looked up ‘preach’ in a dictionary and found a couple of helpful pointers: the second is that preaching is about arguing for something – words that don’t just explain facts but seek to persuade or that lead to some action. So preaching repentance means reminding (or telling for the first time) that you (and when I say ‘you’ I mean me as well) need to repent. Repentance is something each one of us must do, not just something we should know about and agree with.
But it’s the first that really caught my eye: a synonym: ‘prophesy’ – speaking the Word of God. Preaching repentance is bringing the Word of God to those who are listening. Repentance is not just a good idea or an optional extra: it’s a fundamental part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In Jesus Christ, repentance is possible and effective – and necessary.
“Unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 13:3&5)