I cannot recall the main idea of my first sermon. But I do remember the first bit of feedback I got on it. “Did you know you swore during the sermon?” asked my soon-to-be mother-in-law.
It turned out the word in question was pretty far down on my pagan scale of impropriety but I decided to mend my ways nonetheless. The content of Jesus’ first sermon is, to my mind, much more memorable.
“From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
A simple yet profound message. The kingdom is near. If you were to reach out your hand, you could touch. Though you cannot see it. Though you cannot hear it. It is near. So repent.
Actually, in content, it is not remarkably different from what John had been preaching. But now John is in prison and the Savior comes into his own. Proclaiming grace, freedom and the forgiveness of sins.
In terms of famous sermons, we might think of the Sermon on the Mount or Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God, but they all spring from this simple statement: Repent, the kingdom is near. Remarkable how such a mighty oak, 2000 years of church history, should spring from such a tiny seed. And how, at the end of each branch, we find ourselves still faced with the same proposition. Will we repent? Will we in submission to the king, experience the kingdom?
Lord, I repent of my kingdom. Help me enter yours.