From that very moment he …began to preach, and to say, “Repent…” – because now he can utter those words with authority. Now they are no longer John the Baptist’s words he is repeating, now they are his own. He has repented and he has come to know what they mean. Now they are not futile, parrot-like words; they are pregnant, alive. He has touched the reality of those words, he has come to see the mystery of them.
The actual word in Hebrew is teshuvah: repent. Teshuvah means return and teshuvah also means answer. Both meanings are beautiful. To return to God is an answer to him. This is one of the most beautiful things in Judaism, one of the greatest contributions of Judaism to the world. It has to be understood, because without it you will never be able to understand Jesus.
Judaism is the only religion in the world which says that not only is man seeking God, but God is also seeking man. Nobody else in the world believes that. There are Hindus, Mohammedans and other religions, they all believe man is seeking God. Judaism believes God is also seeking man. And this should be so if he is a father. This should be so. He is the whole, and if a part has gone astray, the whole – out of his compassion – must seek the part.
Judaism has a beauty of its own. Man seeking God is just like stumbling in darkness. Unless God is also seeking you, there seems to be no possibility of any meeting. How will you seek him who is unknown? Where will you seek him? You don’t know the address – where will you address your prayers? Where will you move, where will you go, what will you do? You can only stumble, cry and weep; tears can be your only prayer. A deep desire – but how to fulfill it? You can burn with it, but how to arrive? Judaism says: man can seek, but man cannot find unless God wills it.
God is within reach, but not within grasp. You can spread your hands – he is within reach, but not within grasp. He comes within grasp because he is also seeking you. He can seek you immediately and directly, he knows exactly where you are. But he cannot seek you unless you are on the search. He can seek you only when you are searching, when you are doing everything that can be done, when you are not withholding anything, when your search is total. When your search is total, immediately heaven opens and the spirit of God descends in you. He is waiting, waiting with a deep urge to meet you.
This should be so, because existence is a love affair. It is a hide-and-seek play, it is a game. The mother is playing with the child and hiding. The mother is waiting, and if the child does not come the mother will start seeking him. But God gives you total freedom. If you don’t want to seek, he will not interfere, he will not be an intruder; if you want to seek only then does he knock at your door. If you have invited, only then does the guest come. The guest may be just waiting to knock on the door; only your invitation is needed. Otherwise he can wait for eternity, there is no hurry. God is not in any haste.