My Thoughts. . .
If someone has been disobedient and wants to be forgiven, we say that person needs to repent. Sometimes to reinforce our expectation, we quote Luke 13:5 “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” When Peter preached on Pentecost and accused the crowd of killing Jesus, they ask what they needed to do (Acts 2:37). Peter stated, “Repent and be baptized” (Acts 2:38). However, not everyone who needed to repent did so.
At that last Passover meal, the disciples were arguing about who was going to be Jesus’ number one man (Luke 22:24). Perhaps this is why Jesus washed their feet to quash that type of thinking (John 13:4-12)? Despite this argumentation about greatness, repentance is not introduced.
During that Passover meal Peter was emphatic in telling Jesus he would not deny him (Matthew 26:33, 35). Yet, he did (Matthew 26:69-75). When Jesus was resurrected, some of the disciples believed, but Matthew 28:17 reveals that “some doubted.” We are not told who nor how many bore that guilt. Mark does write that Jesus rebuked them for their unbelief (Mark 16:14). Luke reports that Jesus asked them why they were “troubled” and had “doubt” (Luke 24:38). Yet, none are told that they will perish unless they repent. When Jesus was arrested the apostles disappeared into the protection of Palestinian darkness. John and Peter recovered enough to go where they had taken Jesus. Peter began fulfilling those denials which Jesus foretold. Later, John is the only apostles mentioned at the crucifixion (John 19:27). Despite the apostles’ reaction, none are admonished that they will perish unless they repent. In Jesus’ third appearance with the apostles, he speaks to Peter. Yet, he does not demand repentance from Peter for his denials, lies, or foul language (Mark 14:66-71). His dialogue with Peter is, “Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17). The word “repentance” is not uttered. When the adulterous woman was brought to Jesus and her accusers left, he asked “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” After she answered his question, Jesus said, “Then neither do I condemn you, go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:10-11). The word “repentance” is not in his dialogue for either that woman or when he spoke with Peter. Even in the Old Testament a prostitute lies to protect two Jewish spies. She lies to the men of her own country that are searching for them. Repentance is never mentioned. The Hebrew writer speaks of her faith but does not mention repentance being needed due to her lying. We assume that repentance was needed and demanded. But assumptions are not usually based upon factual evidence. That is the case here.
It is interesting that Peter draws his sword to defend Jesus and ends up denying him. What a contrast. Jesus told the apostles that they would know the truth which offers freedom, yet they ran for the cover of darkness when soldiers appeared. Jesus had lost just as much sleep as the apostles did, but they slept rather than praying with him. Twelve men joined Jesus expecting a kingdom but were shocked and bewildered when the Lord spoke of the necessity of his death. They were willing to follow where Jesus led but met behind closed doors fearing they would also be arrested. For over three years they were in the presence of God in the flesh, yet their support was much like ours. We strive for perfection but are rewarded with failure. We hope for mercy but expect condemnation. Repentance? We believe it is needed for others. We quote scripture to prove its necessity. We expect it. We require it. But do we see a need for it ourselves?