A Change in Heart and Life
John the Baptist is all about it, this moment. He has his fist in the air a la MTV’s The Jersey Shore, 2009. From his place among the communion of saints -- communion of saints because Herod, *that jerk, took his life – he is in Peter’s Amen corner.
This was his sermon: find forgiveness and let it change your heart and life. John’s baptism was for forgiveness. When he was born, his father sang of his calling: “to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins (Luke 1).
When Peter and the apostles are being questioned and they use the microphone as they do, John the Baptist is with them. Are we?
In a word, no; at least, this is my sense. While there is an abundance of shame and guilt within and among us, on the whole, we don’t see the bad things in our lives and our world in terms of sin that needs to be forgiven. Ask us what the world needs now, and we’re not throwing elbows to get to the front of line to say, “forgiveness for sins” (Acts 5).
Here’s the thing: It’s all over the gospels. Said another way, there is plenty in the Bible, including the red-letter parts, about a change of heart and life set in motion by forgiveness. In the end, Jesus assesses the value of his own life in such terms. This is my blood…poured out…for the forgiveness of sins (Mt. 26:28).
I’m not suggesting that there is nothing else going in the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. Of course there is. What I am suggesting, is that it may be time for us to do some fresh thinking about the nature of the torch that is passed to Jesus and then to the apostles.
They are on the hot seat, this Sunday, and this is what they say (Peter and company): The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead… to enable God’s people to change their heart and life and to find forgiveness for sins (vv.30-31).
We have come full circle. I don’t know about the rest of us, but John is pumped. The promise in repentance burns brightly.