After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Blood, Sweat and Tears had a hit called Spinning Wheel. The first verse talks about one up, one down.
What goes up must come down Spinnin' wheel got to go 'round
Once upon a time, Egypt was the dominating world power. Rome had a long run, being perhaps the first global superpower. Since then, many other countries have had their time on top. America has dominated for a while, but there is always competition.
The same is true with organizations and companies. IBM dominated the first generation of computing followed by Microsoft. Google is tops in search while Amazon is the 500-pound gorilla of online shopping.
But the same can be said about leaders and movements. Leaders and movements rise from relative obscurity, people start to pay attention, following and inviting others to join.
It was that way with John the Baptist. He came out of nowhere and set up shop in the middle of nowhere, in the wilderness. It must have started out ridiculously small at first, but then word spread so that there was a mass exodus to see and listen to him
People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan.
But after baptizing Jesus, there was a decline in John’s popularity. His daily and weekly Twitter feed slowed, he his upward trajectory of Facebook likes leveled off, his Instagram and Pinterest numbers flattened and then declined.
People stopped following him and transferred their allegiance to Jesus. And the floor fell out from this downward spiral when he was thrown in jail for daring to criticize the leading political leader of the day.
It was at this point that Jesus shifted gears in his message to one of hope and good news. He spoke about the need for good news and encouraged people to believe the good news.
Boy, does that sound exactly like what we need today. We don’t need news; we need good news. And our response needs to be more than letting that good news go in one ear and out the other. We need to believe the good news, letting it persuade us and replace all the “junk” that we find ourselves under.
But good news comes at a price. Not just at any price but at a high price. Good news comes at the price of, dare I say it, repentance.
But what is repentance? The simple fact is that repentance is having a change of mind regarding your life. It’s exchanging what you thought and replacing it with something else altogether. It’s one or the other.
We cannot hold two thoughts in our heads at the same time. We can only think about one thing or another, not both. Yes, we can quickly “swap” thoughts in and out, like when we walk while reading from our phone. Our brains are quickly moving back and forth between reading and watching where we’re going. One thought overlays what we were thinking about.
Repenting is admitting that what we thought and lived was wrong, changing our minds and replacing it not just with another list of do’s and don’ts, but with a person. And, according to Jesus, that person is Jesus himself.
Jesus gives a completely different set of values, perspectives, and view of reality than anyone else in all of history. And all of it is based on who he is.
Jesus is not just suggesting like a how a waiter talks about the special of the day, or the popup ad that just appeared on your screen. Jesus is commanding that we actively and continually be turning and changing out mind towards him. And this turning towards Jesus is not just as a good teacher or spiritual advisor. Jesus points towards himself as the one and only good news.
John the Baptist was on top, but then moved to the side, making room for Jesus. We have the same choice: will we make daily, purposeful decisions, moving Jesus on top of our priority and life choices list?
Will we follow John the Baptists’ lead?