John’s Message of Repentance – Lk. 3:1-14

Humanity has a fatal flaw when it comes to the heart. Aside from the physical muscle, we improperly conflate the heart with the emotions. I say ‘improperly’ because, when the KJV and older Bibles refer to the emotions, they use the word ‘bowels’. ‘Heart’ means something entirely different. The heart is that place in a person’s soul where the mind and will come together to make decisions. That part of me that makes willful decisions is what older versions of the Bible refer to as the heart.

Now, newer versions remove that word ‘bowels’ and replace it with ‘heart’, giving the impression that the heart is synonymous with emotions. This is a problem because is causes us to think that love is an emotion. It’s not. Affection is an emotion; love is an action. We can see the same thing in the relationship between sorrow and repentance. Sorrow is an emotion; repentance is an action.

In today’s text, we’ll see John the Baptist preaching a message of repentance. When people ask him what that looks like, he gives them specific actions they can take. Those actions do not accomplish or create repentance, they prove it. In other words, if a person truly repents of sin, his or her actions will prove it. Why? Because genuine repentance results in a genuine change of behavior.