A Walk through the Book of Luke
March 18, 2023
“Saying I’m sorry isn’t good enough.”
Repent or Perish
How many times in your life have you said the two words, “I’m sorry.” I don’t think I could come up with a number for that answer.
Children say it to their parents when they’ve done something wrong or have gotten caught in a lie. Likewise, adults apologize to their spouses by saying, “I’m sorry,” for everything from forgetting an anniversary to infidelity.
Those two words often roll off of our tongues as easily as the words I, we, and the. But, if someone is genuinely sorry for something they said or did, those two words aren’t enough. They also need to be genuinely repentant and change their ways.
Today’s reading talks about repentance. On the surface, it may seem like the two words are synonymous. But they’re not.
Let’s take a look at today’s verses and a parable from the book of Luke.
“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 guiltier than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So, 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?’
“‘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:1-9
It’s interesting how the human mind works at times. When the words above were shared, several people who were with Jesus brought up the story of some Galileans who had died at the hands of Roman soldiers. They perished while they were killing their sacrifices in the temple.
The people who brought this up were trying to justify themselves. They envisioned themselves as better people than those who had died at the temple.
Then Jesus brings up the tragic end of 18 people who died when the tower in Siloam collapsed (near the healing pool in Siloam.).
In both cases, people felt that these people died because they were horrible sinners. This couldn’t be further from the truth. That would be like saying the 3000 people who died in the towers on 9/11 were all sinners and deserved to die. Again, that’s just not true.
“We must not interpret unusual earthly suffering and death as a specific punishment for some sin which an individual has committed unless there is proof.” People’s Bible Commentary, Luke, Victor H. Prange, Pp. 154-157.
Jesus then tells a parable about a fig tree that was not bearing fruit. At the time, the fig tree represented the people of Israel. Today, we can view the fig tree as the people of the world.
There are few places in this world where the Gospel of Jesus Christ has not been shared. The man in the story was probably the owner of the vineyard. The man in the story is God, looking at His creation and not seeing people believing in the one true God. Jesus is the worker in the vineyard asking for more time for the fig tree to grow.
God is patient to a point. He gives people time to repent and follow Him.
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
Although God gives us a delay in judgment, He expects up to repent of our sins. This is not a forever offer. Just like in the parable, there is a time when the unfruitful tree will be cut down. If we die unrepentant, our opportunity for salvation and eternal life is lost.
As a believer, it’s a scary thought. Do you have questions? Are you unsure of what your own prospect of eternal life is?
Number one, repent. Confess your sins, transgressions, and mistakes to God, and ask for forgiveness. If that is foreign to you, talk to someone who is a follower of Christ.
God is patient, but we don’t have forever to repent.