Mark 1:4-5 – John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.
"Repent!" John the Baptist cried. "Turn from your wrongdoing and show that you mean it by what you do!" With windblown unkempt hair matted from river water, he strode soaking wet with his roughly spun, camel's hair garment clinging to his large desert sun-tanned frame, leather belted in place. From the countryside they flocked to this bold preacher of promise. John descended with the first into the muddy Jordan. The urban socialite, the street person, the career soldier, all drawn from the same muddy water. All reduced by the common denominator of sin to the same need for salvation.
The common denominator of humanity is our inbred propensity to do wrong. How often do we proclaim that we are going to go on a diet, going to quit smoking, or are going to join an exercise club? We do not intend to snap at the cashier. We do not intend to ignore our spouse just because the playoffs are on. We do not mean to overlook our children's insistent tugging at our trousers because our friend has phoned, but we do, don't we? All have sinned. So John's words for the crowds on the banks of the Jordan are words for us too. Repent.
To repent is to simply to go to God with our failures, and ask for the ability to change our ways, in Jesus' name. It is not complicated. Just ask in Jesus' name and forgiveness is ours. End of story. Our sin is wiped out. Erased. As if we had never spoken that sharp word, lost our temper, nor ignored our spouse. That's the beauty of forgiveness. God undoes what we did. Oh, we still may have natural consequences. We still will have to exercise off our chocolate craving from that last party. God doesn't magically do liposuction, but God in Christ Jesus does cancel our sin. So rejoice. In Jesus we are forgiven.
Prayer: Almighty God, We acknowledge that we have missed the mark, messed up, and otherwise injured ourselves and others. We truly regret our past and wish to do better. Please erase our sin in Jesus' name. Amen.