Way of Jesus - First Steps

If we are to take the message of Jesus to be more than just a "blue print" to get to heaven, then we must begin at the beginning of his public ministry: He was baptized.

In case you are unaware:

Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.  
John the Baptist baptized people who repented. 
The first thing Jesus did in his public ministry was repent.  

"Wait! Wasn't Jesus without sin?  Was he not perfect?  What would he need to repent of?" 

Indeed, Christians have come to understand repentance as seeking forgiveness for sin.  However, it may be interesting to note a few Bible verses in which God repents in the King James Bible:

Genesis 6:6
And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
Exodus 32:14
And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.
Deuteronomy 32:36
For the Lord shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants.
1 Samuel 15:11
It repenteth me [God] that I have set up Saul to be king.
1 Samuel 15:35
The Lord repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.
2 Samuel 24:16
The Lord repented of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, it is enough: stay now thine hand.
1 Chronicles 21:15
The Lord beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand.
Isaiah 38:1-5
In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And Isaiah ... said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live. ... Thus saith the LORD ... I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years.
Jeremiah 15:6
I [God] am weary of repenting.
Jeremiah 18:8
I [God] will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.
Jeremiah 26:3
That I [God]may repent me of the evil, which I purpose to do unto them.
Jeremiah 26:13
The Lord will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you.
Jeremiah 26:19
The Lord repented him of the evil which he had pronounced against them.
Jeremiah 42:10
For I [God] repent me of the evil that I have done unto you.
Amos 7:3, 6
The Lord repented for this.
Jonah 3:10
God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them.

It is not outside the realm of Jewish thinking that God repents, or that God becomes sorry for doing something or that God changes God's mind about something.  For God to repent is not so much seeking forgiveness (although that might be argued by some), but rather God practices "teshuvah". 

"Teshuvah" in the Jewish faith means to "return".  Time and time again, God returns to the promises God makes.  Time and time again, God calls people to return to the covenant.  Time and time again, God changes God's mind and returns to the original thought before things went sour.

So when Jesus seeks a baptism of repentance with John the Baptist, Jesus very much repents.  Jesus returns to something in his life that he had gone astray from or avoided.  Jesus was 30 years old before he began his ministry.  Was he finding ways to avoid the call on his life for a period of time?  Was Jesus sorry for scoring his mother at the wedding at Cana?  For whatever the reasons, Jesus seeks a baptism of repentance because he is returning to something that he knew all along.

He would lead people to a new way of living, but it would come at the cost of his own life.

If we want to begin to walk in the steps of Jesus and discover his alternate way of living, then we must first repent - we must first return to the source of our life.  We must return to God, we must return to Scripture, we must return to the community of faith.

We must stop going it alone.  We must stop buying into a myth that we are loan rangers.  We must return to our source and recognized that we must return to relationship with others and God.

Our way of following God begins the way it began with Jesus - repent and return.