The first of Martin Luther’s famous 95 Theses strikes at the heart of Christianity: “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent’, he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” If being a Christian means walking always in repentance, then Ezra 10 has a lot to teach us about following Christ. If confession is about acknowledging to God the gap between what his Word says and how we actually live, then repentance is about bridging that gap by turning from our sin, to Christ, by the power of the Spirit.
1. Repentance is a mark of Christian leadership. (Ezra 10:1)
Leaders can’t lead you to Christ if they don’t repent. Ezra demonstrates what it takes.
2. Repentance is not an abstract idea. It’s concrete action. (Ezra 10:1-5)
Turning from sin is not a theory; it’s an action. Ezra leads Israel to active repentance.
3. Repentance is communal. (Ezra 10:1-5, 12)
To live in Christian community is to get messy together, even when it comes to sin.
4. Repentance is uncomfortable. (Ezra 10:6-9)
In order to repent, Israel has to get uncomfortable (in the rain and cold!).
5. Repentance needs help. (Ezra 10:9-11)
You can’t turn from sin on your own. We need each other’s help to follow Christ.
6. Repentance gets practical. (Ezra 10:12-17)
Ezra led repentance, but couldn’t do it all. It took others with a practical eye to do so.
7. Repentance hurts. (Ezra 10:44)
Israel’s repentance was costly. It hurt to end ungodly marriages. Repentance hurts.
8. Repent through the cross.
We can’t bridge the gap. But Christ bridged it for us. Now we can repent and believe in him. (2 Cor. 3:17-18; Rom. 12:1)
Reflection & Application Questions
Why is it important to remember repentance is concrete action?
What is one way repentance should be communal in our church?
Why are we hesitant to ask for and receive help in repentance?
What is one practical step you need to take toward repentance?
How might that practical step toward repentance be painful for you?
Why can we only repent through the cross? Why is the ability to repent in Christ such good news?