What is the message of Jesus? What is his point, his command, his running theme? To miss this would be tragic. And, sadly, I think many do.
Look here at the first preaching Jesus does.
Mark 1:14-15 – 14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Jesus came into the public spotlight with a simple message: repent and believe. That simple message has not changed. Many have tried to make Jesus about other things. Many have tried to shape Christianity around politics, social issues, self-esteem, or a thousand other things. But to look at Jesus, the message is simple. Repent and believe.
What is it to repent? To repent is to have a change in how you think that leads to a change in how you act. It is to see yourself in sin, feel genuine sorrow over who you have been and how you have behaved, and change. Repenting is to turn away from living a life that is against God and to turn toward living a life submitted to the lordship of Christ.
Repenting will ultimately work itself out in a number of ways. Our feeling that we, as individuals, have the right of ownership over our lives will go away. We will recognize that we are the servants of God who is our King. We will see that we have no rights other than those he grants to us in his word. Repenting is to stop doing what is wrong, to acknowledge Jesus as your Lord or Master, and start doing what is right in obedience to him.
Believing in the gospel is also not complicated. We are sinners who deserve the judgment of God. Jesus, the Son of God, came to live, die, and rise from the grave in order to purchase our pardon and make it possible for us to be forgiven. All who will put their faith in Jesus and his finished work alone for salvation will be forgiven, saved, made into children of God.
Believing and repenting go hand-in-hand. You cannot believe in Jesus and approach him for salvation without also, simultaneously letting go of control of your life. To believe is to repent and yield. To turn from sin and yield to Christ is also to believe. They are two sides of the same coin. Genuine faith leads to repenting. Repenting only happens through genuine faith.
Have you followed Jesus’ first sermon? It only has two points: repent and believe. Have you repented, understanding that you cannot be the master of your own life and continue to do things according to your own judgment? Have you believed, entrusting your soul to the Lord Jesus through his perfect life and death and resurrection? Turn from sin. Cry out to Jesus for mercy in faith. That is and has always been the message of God.