LUKE 13 TIME TO REPENT
Bible Background: We’ve skipped over chaps. 11-12, where Jesus teaches about persistence in prayer; tangles with the scribes and pharisees; casts out demons; points out the Rich Fool; and teaches how to not worry. Keep in mind, that his ‘face is set towards Jerusalem.’ Jesus is on a difficult mission that will lead to the cross. Also keep in mind that to ‘repent’ literally means ‘to turn’, as in, ‘turn towards God!’
Digging Deeper: 1. Someone asks Jesus about a slaughter involving Jewish pilgrims-no doubt wanting to know “why” that happened. Jesus describes another set of innocent victims, and is careful to point out that they didn’t deserve their fate. “But”, Jesus says, “unless you repent you will also perish!” That sounds harsh. But what is true about Jesus’ words? Tragedies happen. Life is both good and fleeting. How do you hear his call to repent now, today?
2. Then there’s the parable of the unproductive fig tree. The owner says “cut it down”. The gardener says “let me try to nurture it.” There’s a 1 year ‘reprieve’ for the tree! Both of these stories remind us of the temporary nature of life. We never know how much time we have left to live or to work or to serve or to ‘bear fruit’ do we? In what ways is your life ‘bearing’ the kind of fruit Jesus/God desires? In what ways do you need nurture/encouragement? Do we in some way need a ‘deadline’ for living and growing our faith?
3. These first stories in Luke 13 mix grace and judgement. These are hard words about life and death. These are also gracious reminders that today, now, there is time to do what we need to do! There is time to love God. There is time to love our families and neighbors. There is time to learn and grow. There is time to lead and follow. There is time to plan and prepare. The cross of Christ always holds before us the promise of death and life. It promises no stroll in a rose garden. But it also assures us of Christ’s presence and strength for all the opportunities and challenges of daily life.
4. We call 13:31-35 “Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem”. Jerusalem represents God’s chosen people, and God’s dwelling place. The disasters that befell Jerusalem over the centuries seemed to coincide with the peoples’ unfaithfulness to God. Jesus expresses the longing God has always had for God’s people: the longing to gather these children together like a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But the verdict is “you were not willing”. How much of Jesus’ sorrow do you think arises from his own sense of facing suffering and death? What part of Jesus’ sorrow do you think arises from his fears for the people/city? (As a historical reference, remember Luke is writing shortly after the Romans destroyed the city and the temple in 70 AD.)