Sermon: Unless You Repent (Luke 13:1-9)

Luke 13.1-9

Unless You Repent

Luke 13:1-9

Luke tells us in verse 1 that there were some in the crowd who began reporting a current news event.  If we look at what they say it probably is a result of Jesus’ challenge in chapter 12.

Lk 12:54 He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so it happens.

Lk 12:55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens.

Lk 12:56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

Someone in the crowd wanted Jesus to see that they understood the signs of the times.  We do understand, Jesus.  We understand that bad things happen to bad people.  When we heard of the slaughter of those Jews in the Temple we did put two and two together and realize that they must have been terrible sinners. 

As with many people today who want to try and figure out the signs of the times, they brought up a current news event as a means of discerning what God is doing. It’s like some folks today, who read about an event in the Middle East for example and immediately want to draw a line between that event and a prophecy in the Book of Revelation as if they are God and can predict things that our Lord did not know while on earth.

The crowd here in our text today is bringing up a tragic event and concluding that God gets even with extremely bad sinners.  This is almost exactly what we heard ten years ago with 911.  Everyone had an opinion as to why the towers fell.  Some said it was God’s judgment on America.

It doesn’t matter whether we’re speaking about 911 or the tsunami of 2004 or more recently the tidal wave that hit Japan; the questions are basically the same.  Who is responsible and why did these things happen?

Why do bad things happen?

The people here in this passage and almost all people today draw a line to connect catastrophic events with God’s judgment.  Usually the line they draw goes right around themselves.  It’s always someone else’s sin and judgment, rarely do they include themselves.

Today, even at the beginning, I want all of us to understand this passage of Scripture is meant for every one of us.  It’s meant to change our thinking and to excite a life of repentance.

This is God’s Word…

Lk 13:1 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.

Lk 13:2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way?

Lk 13:3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

Lk 13:4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?

Lk 13:5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Lk 13:6 And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none.

Lk 13:7 And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’

Lk 13:8 And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure.

Lk 13:9 Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'”

Let’s look to God’s Word today and not ask questions of God as if we are putting Him up front and center as if to say in some way He owes us an explanation or even an apology for either causing the tragic events or at the least allowing them to happen.  Let’s look at Jesus’ question.  Notice His question isn’t God why did this happen?  His question is meant to show us that without repentance, we will all suffer in a similar way.

1. The Real Question (13:1-4)

Lk 13:1 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.

Lk 13:2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way?

What is the question Jesus is asking us?  Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way?

Let’s think for a moment at what Jesus is getting at…

The City of Galilee was full of people that day.  This was probably the Passover feast and celebration.  Tradition has it that there began among the Jews an uprising in rebellion against Rome.  Pilate, being the Roman governor in charge, sent his troops in and while those insurrectionists were worshiping in the Temple, they were slaughtered along with the animal sacrifices.  The blood of the people was mingled with the blood of the animal sacrifices.

The question Jesus asks is, do you think that because this event took place and happened to a particular number of Galileans while everyone else there was spared, that these were worse sinners than the ones who escaped?

In their minds horrible sin equaled horrible punishment.  It was the same kind of thinking that Jobs friends had when they saw the suffering of Job.  Job, you must have done some very serious sinning in your life for God to do all this to you.  It was the same type of thinking that brought Jesus’ disciples to ask the question one day, who sinned this man or his parents that he was born blind

Jn 9:2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Jn 9:3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.

The Real Question: Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way?

2.  The Real Answer

Lk 13:3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

Jesus shows us the connection we should make between tragedies and human suffering.  He emphatically answers His rhetorical question with a decisive… NO!

No, the tragedy did not happen to them and not to others because this was an exceptionally sinful bunch of Galileans.

OR…

Lk 13:4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?

Lk 13:5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

ALL-

The line should not be drawn from tragedy to exceptional sinners but from tragedy to us.

Here, Jesus’ conclusion has earth-shattering implications for us.

Do you suppose they were worse sinners than ALL the others?  Unless we repent we will ALL likewise perish.

Most folks, when the preacher begins preaching a sermon on repentance, zone out because they think it’s a sermon that pertains to everyone except them.  That was a good sermon preacher; they really needed to hear that message on repentance.  Or if we were in the crowd that day with Jesus, we might be thinking that the reason Pilate killed those particular Galileans or the tower fell on those particular people in Jerusalem that day and not me is because they were worse sinners than I am.  I’m right with God because He hasn’t dropped a tower on my head.  So, given our paradigm, I’m alive and well because my sin isn’t as bad as all those dead people.

Jesus says, oh no, don’t draw a line from tragedy to them draw it from tragedy to you.

What’s His point?  Whenever we witness or hear of some catastrophic event where many people perish, we must never think we are better than them because God killed them by passing judgment and we are spared, no, His point is that we are all such retched sinners that it is only in God’s mercy and grace that we are not all dead.

The real question we should ask is not why did that hurricane kill so many in Louisiana but why doesn’t God send one and destroy the whole United States?

The reason any , including you and me, can currently take a breath of fresh air is because God is longsuffering and is waiting for repentance.

2 Pt 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

Why is God currently showing mercy to some?  He’s patiently waiting for them to repent.

It’s so important that when we share the Gospel with others that we speak about their sin and their need to repent.  We’ve got to start being biblical with our talk.  Don’t call sin mistakes, slip-ups or issues call sin, sin.  Jesus didn’t come to save losers, He came to save sinners, Paul says, of whom I am chief.  We also must use biblical language when we speak of the remedy to sin.  The only hope for sinners is to trust Christ and turn to Him in repentance and faith.  Jesus clearly says, unless we repent, we will all likewise perish.

What is repentance?

Repentance is a heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ.[1]

As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.

10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. [2]

Repentance is a sorrow over sin.  Not sorrow that you got caught or sorrow over certain consequences.  Repentance is a sorrow over sin because it is against God.

Jesus wants us to see one last thing today.  It’s not that God is quick to judge or just waiting to get even with us.  The true picture of God is a patient Father waiting and nurturing.

3. A Real Father

Lk 13:6 And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none.

Lk 13:7 And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’

Lk 13:8 And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure.

Lk 13:9 Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'”

God is patient and longsuffering.  He prolongs judgment while sinners repent.  He is pictured here as the Vinedresser who will patiently cultivate and fertilize and nurture.

So we see that God isn’t quick to deal out pain and death.  However, He’s no push over.  There will come a time when His patience is gone.

He waits for the sinner to repent.  He works in the life of the sinner drawing him to repent.

Then, once the sinner has repented and turned from sin to Christ, God works in our lives to cause us to continually repent.  Do you know how you can tell you’re a Christian?  You are currently repenting.  We all struggle with sin from time to time.  Every time we sin we must come to God in repentance.  It’s only as the Holy Spirit works within our lives do we see the need to repent.

I need to ask you today, Do you believe Jesus?

Do you believe Him when He says, unless you repent you will ALL likewise perish.

If we believe Him then we will be repenting.

For the lost person that may be here today, unless you repent, you will likewise perish.  Unless you repent you will spend an eternity perishing.  Come to Christ in faith and repentance.

Christian: Do you believe these words of Christ?  Then you must be telling others.  If your loved ones and friends do not repent, they will ALL perish.

Jesus’ Words are far reaching and apply to every person who has ever lived lost and saved alike.

Lost person, come to Christ in faith and repentance.

Saved person, practice daily repentance and call other to faith repentance.

We must realize that the tragic events Jesus referred to that day were nothing compared to the pain and suffering He endured to save the very sinners who deserved God’s wrath.  Because of the suffering and the cross, we who deserve death because of sin can experience forgiveness and life.

Why do bad things happen?  We live in a sinful world.  We live in a fallen world.  We live in a perishing world.  But there is a God who saves the perishing.

Run to Jesus and be saved, repent today and live!

 


[1] Grudem, W. A. (1994). Systematic theology : An introduction to biblical doctrine (713). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (2 Co 7:9–10). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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