Jonah 3:5
So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.

A few days back someone bought my attention to differences in various Bible translations. I was aware of the variation in translation due to lack of understanding of scripture. Also I was aware of a handful scriptures differences between 2 root manuscripts where some words / sentences are added or missing for example the scripture Matthew 17:21 is there in some early manuscripts and not there in the others. These few 'questionable' scripture actually do little difference to the Christian belief, if fact they help us understand things better.

But there was one interesting variation between the standard Bibles and the RSV, which is the topic of our today's message. In Matthew 9:13 we see the RSV Bible choses to omit the word 'repentance'. We may think this is not a very important factor, but in today's message we see repentance saved a whole city.

The Lord did come to call sinners but unless the sinner repents the sinner cannot come to the Lord. The Hebrew word translated as sackcloth in today's message comes from the root word which means 'to run through and fro'. Putting on sackcloth in other words meant a person reassessing one's life and bringing it to a proper course.

People have a wrong idea of repentance and think repentance means being sorry. Being sorry does not require one to run through and fro one's life. Being sorry is the first, half part of repentance; repentance requires one to correct the areas one is sorry for.

Repentance is the most important part of being Christian and without repentance no one can become a Christian. Unless we do not accept we are sinners we cannot come to Christ. We need to run through and fro our lives and be aware of the areas where we need to change and then only we can call it true repentance.

John the Baptist was very famous for bringing people to repentance. The baptism of water (John the Baptist promoted) is symbolic to the baptism of repentance (historically it started during the times of Maccabees but was done with those select few who pursued higher scriptural study / discipleship, John got the common man to do it; there were also other types of baptism the Jews did like in sand, which were more dangerous). John also confessed that Jesus (the one who came after him) would baptise them in the Holy Spirit.

Unless we take the baptism of repentance we cannot receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Symbolic immersing in water encourages us and reminds us of our baptism, but if we do not have repentance inside us the immersing become a ritual and does the opposite of what it was meant for.

The Baptism of Water is also called the Baptism in Jesus Christ because unless we do not see the perfect image of God in Christ it is difficult to know all the areas where we need to repent. To change we all need a benchmark and our benchmark is Christ.

Baptism of the Holy Spirit is when we surrender to the Holy Spirit asking Him to do the changes in those areas where we need change. In Baptism of Water we may have the natural immersing in water but in Baptism of the Holy Spirit it is purely spiritual. But the interesting part is there is an immediate confirmation when a person is baptised in the Holy Spirit unlike in Baptism of Water there is not external confirmation if the person was truly baptised or not. Bible says the Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit were seen in all those who were baptised in the Holy Spirit.

When we repent there will be no external, immediate effects seen. It will take a long time to know if and how much one is immersed in repentance. Jesus said even if we are as hard as stone, but if we repent God can bring life in us. Jesus also said very clearly unless we are not baptized in water (repentance / in Christ) and in the Holy Spirit we will not enter Heaven.

We may be called Christians and may do all the rituals as Christians, we may even do the work of God, of evangelising, of healing people in the name of Jesus yet we will not go to Heaven. For that we need to be baptised in Water and Spirit.

[ Prayer Starter ]
Lord, we are sinners and when we see You manifested perfectly in Christ we know how much we deep in sins. Lord, we are filled with malaise, deceit, stubbornness, stiff-necked, full of lust and formication. Lord, we know how much we are in darkness when we see the light in You. Lord, we ask You come in all the areas of darkness in us. We ask your light to repel the darkness in us and let your Spirit dwell in us so that darkness never comes again in us...

This prayer we make in Jesus' Name, Amen.

[ Reference ]
Matthew 17:21 - Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

Matthew 9:13 [NKJV-AV] - But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Matthew 9:13 [RSV] - go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' for I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."

Mark 2:17 - When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Mark 1:4 - John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

Matthew 3:11 - I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

Luke 7:29 - And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John.

Luke 3:8 - Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

Mark 11:29-33
29 And Jesus answered and said unto them, I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things.
30 The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me.
31 And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him?
32 But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people: for all men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed.
33 And they answered and said unto Jesus, We cannot tell. And Jesus answering saith unto them, Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.

John 4:1-2
1 When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,
2 (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)

John 3:5 - Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

Ephesians 4:4-6
4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

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