Why is it that the word “repent” shows up so often in the Bible? All the prophets refer to it and both John the Baptist and Jesus speak of it often. And why is repentance apparently so hard to come by? In the Gospel passages for this Sunday, Luke 13:1-9, 31-35, Jesus both pleads for it and later laments its absence.

Perhaps we can all relate to how hard it is to admit being wrong, how vulnerable one feels in asking another person for forgiveness, even those closest to us. And some of us may look back on periods of our life where we simply could not or would not recognize our need to change. And, of course, in such a state of mind, nothing did change, except the mounting consequences of our mind-set, or our soul.

As I prepare to preach the sermon this Sunday, I’ve been reflecting on what happens in repentance and why we so often instinctively resist it. And yet, if it were not important, why does it appear so prominently in the preaching of the prophets and the church? Why even is repentance a traditional emphasis in the season of Lent? I suspect that the answers lie in the “basement” of the human heart and psyche, a place where finally only the gospel can shine a redeeming light.

Pastor Peter Strommen