Repentance, Luke 13:1-9

Lent is an authentic call to repentance. This call is not metaphor, because to fail to repent is to perish. But the call to repent is ever present and is not withdrawn from us. Two titans face off: repent or perish-the call to repent is not withdrawn. Verse 9 tips Jesus’ hand. He wants us to repent, and is willing to grant us a bit more time, but for how long?

The message of hope is that there is time; so now is the time. This is not about who is the worst offender, but about repentance. It concerns a savior who loves all offenders and advocates for them before the Creator. “The worst offender” is a human invention, used to grade sin for the purpose of fairness. To God, sin is sin, and no one is immune from its consequences; no one is beyond grace’s redemption. Repentance is the point of separation, not gradations of offenses.

The opportunity to repent would never be offered by an angry god. But our God, the only God, is loving and long-suffering. What but love would delay destruction? God’s love and hope are expressed, and we are drawn to consider this loving option. The economics of love invested, but refused, would suggest destruction as pointed out in the parable of the fig tree. Love is not a formula; it is not measured on a ledger sheet.

Love must see sin as sin and must care about its consequences, but love does not have to measure sin, nor be defeated by it. Thus, the call to return, to repent, is issued, pressed against time. “Unless you repent, you will all perish” (v 5) is not an angry threat; it is a loving warning.

In this passage Jesus uses both a direct and an indirect approach to convince his hearers of the truth of his message. “Repent or perish” is obviously direct, but even the parable speaks of urgency. The man who planted the fig tree is ready to chop it down. The gardener is able to hold off the consequences for another season, but apparently not for ever. Another season of reminder has rolled around on the Church calendar. The message is the same, but the urgency has intensified by the factor of the year the parable calls for.

What does repentance mean? What change, what “fruit” is required? The answer is personal. Anything that stands between us and full submission to God through the journey toward Christ-likeness is something that needs to be acknowledged and confessed in prayer. The returning that this will entail is the beginning of repentance. The new journey begins with that “thing” acknowledged being dropped from or added to your living with the help of the Holy Spirit.

God the Creator grants time; God the Savior makes a way; God the Spirit encourages us and guides us. It is a God of threefold love who calls us to repent and to return. Jesus stands ready to dig around in our lives and show us a more fertile way of living. Jesus wants to enrich our lives and help us bear fruit to the glory of God.

Does doubt linger, making us wonder if this can really happen, and really happen in our life? Prayer defeats doubt, establishing communication with the One who pleads for us and calls to us, who died for us, and wants to live in us.

We acknowledge our sin; we acknowledge the call to repent.

We believe, Lord; cultivate our belief.


A word about the series

The Lenten season has always inspired many people to create everything from poems, art and music to a completely new direction in their lives.  This Lenten season Tabernacle will be exploring many of those creations in the hope of inspiring you to compose in a medium that is natural for you.   The paintings in the Sanctuary are of the Biblical Stations of the Cross.  The artist, Grieg Leach, completed them in 2010.  They will help us to visualize the events leading to the crucifixion of Jesus.  In addition to the paintings there is a Lenten devotional booklet, Return to Me, which is available in print or online.  The Stations of the Cross also inspired these devotions, written by Terry York of Baylor University.   Living with these two bodies of artistic expression based on the Biblical Stations of the Cross throughout the season of Lent should help us as we seek to return our lives to God by walking with Jesus though his final days.

Pray, read, think and return to God.




All scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible.

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