7678 - Repent or Perish

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The passage for study today in Luke 13 finds Jesus emphasizing to the people that every person needs to repent and bear fruit of righteousness.

Listen to Luke 13:1-9

1Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2Jesus answered, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish."

6Then he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. 7So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, 'For three years now I've been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven't found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?'

8" 'Sir,' the man replied, 'leave it alone for one more year, and I'll dig around it and fertilize it. 9If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.' "

Some people questioned Jesus over a concern for a group of Galileans who had been murdered by Pilate’s soldiers. There is no historical record of this event; however, Pilate was a harsh ruler over the Jews. His authority did not include Galilee. Many people in Galilee were opposed to Roman rule and some were openly militant. It is possible that when Pilate was informed about Galileans being in the Temple he had them killed thinking they were plotting a revolt.

Jewish belief equated violent death to be punishment by God for horrible personal sin –– the more gruesome the death they visualized, the more horrible the sin in their life; thus, these Jews speaking to Jesus must have thought that those murdered were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they had suffered in this way under Pilate.

Jesus corrected this misconception regarding sin. He stressed that suffering had nothing to do with one’s spiritual condition. Personal righteousness is not to be measured by the circumstances of death. He emphasized that everyone has sinned and that all sin was offensive to God. Jesus says that each person must repent before God for the sins they have committed or else they would perish.

The word Jesus used for perish in the Greek did not mean annihilation –– ceasing to exist –– but carried the idea of spiritual death with continual eternal consequences.

Jesus then brought to their attention another event in which eighteen people died as a tower fell on them. He asked them whether these people were more sinful than all the others living in Jerusalem. Jesus answered his own question in the negative, and again emphasized that every person is a sinner before God and must repent or else they too will face spiritual death with eternal consequence.

Jesus tells a parable which gives hope. He tells about a fig tree in an orchard which had failed to bear fruit for three years. The owner reached the end of patience and ordered the tree to be cut down. The gardener appealed for one last chance. Give me a year to fertilize and tend the tree and see if fruit is produced. If not then cut it down.

The spiritual lesson Jesus is teaching is that God is gracious. He gives people many chances to change their course of life, to come to Him with repentance so they might receive mercy & grace. He patiently works with each one to get them to grow and produce spiritual fruit.

He points out that even God’s patience has limits. If a person refuses to yield to the Lord, and continues a rebellious, independent lifestyle, there will come a time when life is terminated, in a state of spiritual death. Then they face eternal punishment for their rebellion against loving, gracious God.