1 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene,
2 in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas,
the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness.
3 And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins; 
4 as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight. 
5 ‘Every ravine will be filled, And every mountain and hill will be
brought low; The crooked will become straight, And the rough roads smooth; 
6 And all flesh will see the salvation of God.’” 
7 So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
8 Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father,’ for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.
9 Indeed the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” 
10 And the crowds were questioning him, saying, “Then what shall we do?”
11 And he would answer and say to them, “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.”
12 And some tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?”
13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than what you have been ordered to.”
14 Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, “And what about
us, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages.”

If you have not yet had the opportunity to hold a newborn baby and take in a long, deep whiff of “new baby smell,” then you’re missing out. 

It may be the only thing better than new car smell. It is invigorating and inspiring to hold a new human being and take in that wonderful scent. It’s almost as if you get to start over anew in the same way that the newborn is starting anew.

Christmas Day has that same affect for some. 

For most, there is no work. Most of our distractions and responsibilities are put aside (or have put us aside). The day, if not the entire week at the end of the year, is an opportunity to start anew. 

Fitting that the holiday celebrates the birth of a newborn.

Also fitting that we read a passage about John the Baptist preaching about starting anew ... about repentance. 

Repentance means turning from sin and turning to God. 

Repentance expresses a sincere, inner reorientation of life away from sin and toward God. Spiritual transformation within a person becomes evident in that individual’s lifestyle and behavior. 

Once you have repented and been forgiven of sins, you become sensitive to areas of your life that are not in accordance with God’s will.

On this occasion in which we celebrate the birth of a newborn Jesus, we can celebrate our own rebirth and set into motion the practice of ongoing
repentance ... of starting anew each and every day in our walk with the Lord.

  • What is the purpose of repentance? 
  • How would you explain your experience of repentance to an unbeliever?
  • Why do Christians, though saved, need to live a lifestyle of ongoing repentance?

Take some time this Christmas Day to reflect on the repentance Jesus makes possible. Thank God for the new start He gave you, and pray that you will live a lifestyle of repentance today.