To the Scandinavian people, the first day of summer is eagerly awaited. Being the longest day of the year, the sun remains above the horizon for 24 hours above the Arctic Circle. To many, it heralds Saint John's day. In his commemoration, bonfires are lit throughout the north countries.
Who was this man? The holy Bible testifies him to be a cousin of Jesus Christ. However, he is better known as the forerunner of Jesus. His message to his generation was for them to prepare themselves for eternity. Every person needed to repent of their sins, said he. One of his quotations, according to St. Matthew, chapter 3, was, "And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire."
Many, moved by his remarks, confessed their evil deeds (repented), were baptized, and became followers of Jesus.
After a short time, St. John's sermons ceased, because he was imprisoned. Jesus then took up the responsibility to preach repentance, and the forgiveness of sins. St. Mark tells us, "Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God. And saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye, and believe the gospel'" (Mark 1:14, 15).
Jesus spoke much about this kingdom. The 13th chapter of Matthew alone testifies to this, wherein are listed seven parables. This kingdom comes with it a gospel. It is preached by people, who are authorized to do so. They continue this proclamation, as Jesus assured that he would be with them until the end of time (Matthew 28:20). They are vested with the Holy Spirit. Jesus breathed this spirit upon his disciples, and is described in John 20:21-23. In this reference are the words,
Whosoever sins you remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosoever sins you retain, they are retained."
Jesus further noted that the first priority in one's life is to "seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness..." (Luke 6:33). This righteousness is readily explained in Romans, first chapter, 16th verse as being esconsed in the gospel. "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth ... For therein is the righteousness of God revealed" (verse 17).
Saint John felt inadequate to being vested with this office. He confessed that he was not worthy to bear the shoes of Jesus (Matthew 3:11). St. Paul, also, who put it this way, "But we have this treasure in earthern vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us" (2 Corinthians 4:7). So, likewise, do the believers, entrusted with the gospel of the kingdom of God, feel today.
Dear reader, you too can believe the same. It is written, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find: knock, and it shall be opened unto you." (Matthew 7:7).
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.