Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 23 March 21:
Mark 6:26 — “And the king was exceedingly sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word.”
Pride, lust, power, fear of man, and impetuous decision-making drove Herod to hideous sin which he had not originally intended and later deeply regretted. The Bible says Herod gladly heard God’s word through John the Baptist and “feared John,” but nonetheless beheaded him. (Mark 6:20) The Bible points out that Herod “was exceedingly sorry,” but sorrow is not the same as repentance.
Herod demonstrated “worldly grief” rather than “godly grief.” Worldly grief leads to death. Godly grief leads to repentance and reconciliation with Jesus.
John the Baptist’s message was one of repentance – “In those days John the Baptist came… saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near (Matthew 3:1, 2).’” Jesus began his public ministry with a call to repentance – “Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near (Matthew 4:17);’” and Jesus sent his disciples with a call to repentance in our readings today – “They went out and preached that the people should repent (Mark 6:12).” Repentance comes from “godly sorrow” (genuine, spirit convicted sorrow) and involves the decision to turn to God for mercy and unmerited forgiveness, to turn away from sin, and to do the will of God, to “walk” with Him. Repentance involves 180-out decisive change with tangible results, the “fruit of repentance.” (Matthew 3:8)
Both worldly grief and godly grief are deeply felt but produce opposite results. Consider the difference between the grief felt by Judas and the grief felt by Peter, both of whom betrayed Jesus. After denying Jesus three times, Peter returned to Jesus with a strong reaffirmation of his love for Jesus (John 21:15-17), resulting in an even deeper relationship with Jesus and a truly changed life. Even to the point of torturous death, Peter never denied Christ again. Conversely, Judas carried his worldly grief to his suicidal death, refusing to turn to God for reconciliation. Many live in pain, misery, regret and perhaps bitterness over mistakes that they have made in life and perhaps continue to make. However, God does not want anyone to live in worldly grief that leads to death, but rather God wants everyone to respond to the godly grief that comes from the conviction of the Holy Spirit, to repent, to live in obedience by the grace of God, and to have life to its fullest with godly joy.
- 2 Corinthians 7:10 — For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
- Psalm 51:17 — The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
- 1 John 1:9 — If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
- Psalm 103:12 — as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. (Note that if you travel north on a globe, you will eventually travel south, but if you travel east on a globe, you never reach west – Psalm 103’s choice of direction is very intentional, demonstrating an infinite cleansing of sin through Christ.)
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 23 Mar 21: “So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent.” (Mark 6:12) Tell others about the need of repentance today and the good news of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Communicate the truth in love, and trust the Holy Spirit to do the convicting.
- Proverbs 24:11 — Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.