As John the Baptist promised in the wilderness of Judea, Jesus came to turn everything upside-down. He called uneducated fisherman and traitorous tax collectors to be among his first disciples. He lifted his hands toward defiled lepers, healing them and making them clean. He offered repentance and forgiveness for even the worst sinners and feasted with those who had been cast out from among their people. But all of this greatly upset the Pharisees, scribes, and religious leaders—just as John the Baptist predicted it would.
Jesus’ own cries to repent echoed the words of John the Baptist: “Repent for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 4:17). This message of repentance was extended to both the religious elite and societal outcasts alike. Yet only those who were considered “sinners” and “unclean” had taken Jesus up on his offer of repentance. The religious leaders did not believe they had anything from which they needed to repent, and they cast scorn upon those that had chosen to follow Jesus.
Once we have accepted God’s offer of forgiveness, we have to look around and see if there is anyone in our own lives that we need to extend forgiveness toward. Otherwise, we are at the risk of becoming like those religious elite: accepting Christ’s forgiveness but not extending that same mercy and grace toward those around us.
Christ’s repentance is for all, whether we think we need it or not. That same repentance should be shown to others without our judgement, scorn, or pride.