Jesus exploded onto the gospel scene with these radical words: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matt. 4:17b). Repent? I can hear the Pharisees now: “What are we repenting of?” They were the most religious people in the history of organized religion. Not only did they abide by the Ten Commandments, they added 613 rules and regulations to ensure they obeyed every detail of the Law. Yet Jesus began his earthly ministry in this context- telling them to repent. Can you imagine their consternation? Can you envision their faces? We know from the gospels that they were appalled at this man who was telling them to repent of their religion for religion’s sake. He was about to show them a whole new way.
David Putnam, Breaking the Discipleship Code