The verse written here was the fulfillment of prophecy first spoken by the prophet Isaiah, “The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” (Isaiah 9:2) Jesus was the embodiment of light and truth, and His message still rings true today…”Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”
This verse comes from the Parable of the prodigal son…a young man, who after squandering his portion of his inheritance, found himself starving to death in the middle of a pigsty. It was in those deplorable conditions, that he finally came to himself…recovering his right mind, and realizing just how far he had wandered away. Repentance is a change of mind…leading to a change of heart…which leads to a change of our actions. Unfortunately for many of us, Godly sorrow is only attained when we find ourselves in the middle of the pigsties of life.
When we compare the actions of Zacchaeus and the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-22 we can see quite a contrast. Where Zacchaeus spontaneously offered to donate his great wealth to the needy…the rich young ruler, when challenged by Jesus to sell everything he owned and give the money to the poor, left unwilling. True repentance changes us from the inside out. It transforms our heart, causing us to alter our actions and way of thinking to that of Christ’s.