Repent or Perish
Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or 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? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” – Luke 13:1-5
Many TV evangelists preach what can only be described as the Gospel of Fear. They survey the current events from all over the globe and interpret them to their audience as punishment from God. Similarly the Jews thought themselves as righteous and labelled the Galileans who died at the hands of Pilate as sinners deserving death. Jesus knew their hearts and made it clear that the ones affected by calamity are not always guilty of sin and those who escape are not always innocent. In the Old Testament there were very few instances when God decided to reign his anger on an entire group of people as no one was found righteous. One was during the time of Noah and the other when God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Our mind looks for possible reasons, why someone met with an unfortunate end and more often than not our mind comes to the conclusion that the person must have sinned against God. In the moment we forget that we all are sinners. By letting our minds think that someone died because of their sins we belittle Christ’s suffering on the cross.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God – Romans 3:23
Jesus gave an example of a fig tree which did not produce any fruit and how the owner of the vineyard wanted the caretaker to cut it down.
“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’” – Luke 13:8
Just like the caretaker, Jesus pleads our case for us and keeps giving us opportunities to change our ways. The parable leaves the state of the fig tree open ended with Jesus not telling us what happened to the fig tree the next year. Similarly our destiny is in our hands, if we repent of our ways and commit our lives to Christ, we also can be saved.
Jesus Heals a Crippled Woman on the Sabbath
Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.” – Luke 13:14
The Synagogue leader perhaps had a point. We read about so many instance when Jesus was healing people on the sabbath. Possibly because the healing on Sabbath raised a furore among the religious sect and made it more memorable for the Gospel writers.
Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. – Luke 13:13
The Synagogue leader did not have a problem with Jesus healing people on Sabbath till the crippled woman straightened up and started praising God. When we call on the name of our creator, Satan will try to distract us using anyone and anything. Here a Synagogue leader is being used to discourage the crowds from coming to Jesus while his job description being bringing people closer to God. Satan can use our family or our friends or even our pastors to discourage us, so that we may keep God at a distance.
The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” – Luke 13:15
Jesus called the women a ‘daughter of Abraham’. There is only one other incident when Jesus calls someone a descendant of Abraham and that was for Zaccheus (Luke 19:1-9). The Pharisees loved to divide people based on the twelve tribes of Israel. Jesus reminded them that all of them are descendants of Abraham, the Pharisees, the Tax collectors the farmers, the fishermen, the uneducated and even the prostitutes. The laws were given to them during the days of Moses but Jesus is our King since the beginning.
The Narrow Door
“Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.” – Luke 13:24
No one wants to take the road less traveled for a reason. It will be full of bumps and potholes. Similarly, not everyone wants to enter through a narrow door but would prefer a grand entrance where they would be treated like royalty on arrival.
The ways of the world are welcoming and pleasant to travel on but the way to the kingdom of God is full of thorns and thistles, an unpaved road leading to a narrow door. Those who make it through this narrow door will eat at the table of the Lord.
“People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.” – Luke 13:29
The Jewish rejection of Jesus as the Messiah has opened flood gates for all the world to partake in the kingdom of God. The persecution of the early Church by the Jewish authorities further added thrust to the spread of the Gospel and now the word of God has spread all over the world.
Jesus’ Sorrow for Jerusalem
Some Pharisees expressed their ‘concern’ for Jesus’ safety as they reported that Herod was trying to kill Jesus.
In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem! – Luke 13:33
Jesus did not mean that no Prophet has ever died outside the city of Jerusalem but sarcastically commented on the poor state of the city, which claimed itself to be the holiest of cities but failed to recognize Men of God sent to them with a purpose. Time and again Jerusalem killed the Prophets after defaming them with false accusations (2Ch 24:21 ; Jer 26:23 ) and Jesus knew that they were planning the same fate for Him.
Even today we label people of God as ‘harsh’ if we are not able to accept what God is telling us through them. We have our own little safe spaces and don’t want anything to penetrate it even if it is Jesus knocking, trying to get into our hearts.