From the You Version Bible
Repentance, Baptism, and the Kingdom of God Ash Wednesday ushers in Lent, 40 days of reflection and repentance leading up to Good Friday and Easter. It is a time when Christians from some traditions refrain from luxuries and fine foods. The ash which is used to mark the participants is a reminder that we are but dust and ashes. In the Bible, wearing dust and ashes was a sign of repentance. From an Africa Study Bible proverbs and stories note: John the Baptist instructed people about how to prepare for the Kingdom. He preached that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God. John also emphasized the need to make things right, as a preparation for the Messiah. He told converts, “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God” (Luke 3:8). This was John’s “baptism of repentance” (Acts 18:24-25; 19:4-5). After the Holy Spirit came, baptism took on an even greater meaning. It became evidence of accepting Christ and entrance into his church. The outward sacrament of baptism is preached in many churches as the way to show that Christians are new creations as they await the final coming of Jesus’ Kingdom. Our new lives should result in “fruitfulness” that shows our relationship with Jesus. Sharing what we have and leaving our sinful habits behind show that we are new people. It is not enough to go through physical baptism. Let us show the truth of our new life in Christ to those around us by how we live. Remember your baptism vows and live them each day. Today: If you have a copy of your baptism vows, find it. Or, make a document with your date of baptism and the commitments you made on that day. Frame it and place it prominently in a private space to remind you that you belong to the kingdom of God. You might want to make a creative frame or background using a computer, paints, colored pencils, or some other medium. If you have not been baptized, consider talking to your pastor or priest about the process.
3 He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.