“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” (Is 30:15)
After a brief look at salvation the past week, we will now take the next two weeks of Lent to consider repentance together. What is repentance and why is it so important to Isaiah and Jesus?
Repentance to Isaiah (in the Hebrew language) meant to “turn around” or “turn away from the wrong road.” The people he was prophesying to had forgotten who God was and who they were. Isaiah was trying to get them to turn around and consider again what was true about God and themselves.
Repentance in Greek, metanoia, is quite literally made up of two words, meta: change and nous: mind. So metanoia means change of mind. That’s what Jesus was inviting people into from the very beginning. According to the Gospel writer Mark, the first words out of Jesus’ mouth were, “The time has come,” Jesus said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”(Mark 1:15) With this invitation to repent, Jesus is giving his listeners far more than a chance to say they are sorry for something. He is instead offering them a whole new way of thinking.
A little more on the second half of the Greek word metanoia:
noús (a masculine noun) – the God-given capacity of each person to think (reason); the mind; mental capacity to exercise reflective thinking. For the believer, (noús) is the organ of receiving God’s thoughts, through faith.
The last section of the Greek definition resonates with me, the idea of receiving God’s thoughts through faith. What if repentance is not so much about actively doing something, as it is allowing a change to happen in us. Maybe we can participate in this change (repent) by putting ourselves in a posture to receive God’s thoughts, both his thoughts about who He is as well as his thoughts about who we are. We have the opportunity to follow the path of Isaiah and Jesus and allow our mind (nous) to be changed.