Repent. The first word of the gospel.
The commentary made a good point that it sort of is and isn’t a pre-condition to faith.
Saying “leave Australia and go to Europe” is effectively no different from saying “go to Europe” because you can’t without leaving Australia. Ditto repentance is simply in the nature of truly coming to God.
John the Baptist is a populist prophet type, consciously styled on Elijah. He attracted a lot of attention. He sets up a clash very familiar from the OT prophets in which the powers-that-be are condemned.
So there are false sons and the true son. The Pharisees and Sadducees – theologians and priests stumble on the first word of the gospel because they believe they are sons of Abraham. Repentance is for people outside the religion.
John tells them in fiery terms that their claim to the covenant of Abraham guarantees them nothing.
Jesus, son of God, asks for John’s baptism of repentance. He doesn’t need it.
He doesn’t need to be on earth in human flesh, he doesn’t need to die for his own sin.
But he is here and he will be crucified and the spirit is with him and the father is pleased, because God is love.
I could be the baddies here. I read this and I’m pretty numb really. It’s been there since my earliest memories, I work with this stuff every day.
We’re never too good, too old, too “in” for repentance.