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Repenting in the Present Critical Time February 27, 2016

Posted by sandhandrews in Sermons.
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Luke 13:1-9

Third Sunday in Lent

February 27, 2016

 

Focus:  God releases us from our pain and suffering through the same in His Son.

Function:  That the hearers examine the present/critical time.

Structure:  Juggling the context.

 

Repenting in the Present Critical Time

 

Admittedly, in some ways, I preached on this text last week.  So, you know, just go home and listen to that sermon on our website again to refresh your memory and we’ll call it good.  So we continue our service with the Prayers of the Day.  Fake walking away

No, really, we did.  In preaching on the later parts of Luke chapter 13, I had pointed to the beginning of Luke chapter 13 because of the difficulty of this subject, the difficulty of Christ’s words, “Repent or perish.”  We covered the topic of repentance, that it’s not a work that we do to earn our salvation, we can’t do that.  Rather, repentance is the gift of God, that He works faith in our hearts, and then forgives us of our sins.

And since repentance is a major theme of Lent, I want to continue our journey backwards today.  To look at, and fully understand, the beginning of chapter 13, we need to look at the end of chapter 12.  Go ahead and grab the Bible’s in front of you and open up to Luke chapter 12.  Hopefully you’re seeing how this works.  Luke’s writing is one letter, one coherent work.  And context is king.

54 He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. 55 And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. 56Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?

57 “Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? 58 As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled on the way, or your adversary may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. 59 I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.”

 

Now you don’t give me enough time on Sunday morning in a single service to cover this entire letter.  Nor could you.  So just take note that this is continuing a conversation, that “He also said to the crowds.”  Same place.  Same group.  He’s continuing His teaching.

And so verses 54-56.  You can look at the sky, you can see it change colors and you know what that means the weather will be hours from now, days from now.  You can judge the wind and the sky.  And yet, you’re not paying attention.  You’re not able to judge, to interpret the present time.  That is, My ministry right here in your midst.  You can’t even tell what’s going on.  What it means that the Christ has come.  What all the miracles and teaching points to.  You’re missing it.

For the second paragraph, I just need to let you know that the idea of a journey is an important theme in Luke’s gospel.  Christ’s ministry is depicted as a journey.  And here, He’s depicting us on a journey.  As your journeying from the cradle to the grave, from conception to the death, take note.  Look around you.  See whom you’ve harmed and wronged and fight for reconciliation.  Fight for forgiveness.  Otherwise, when the judge comes, he’ll throw you in prison.  And when the eternal Judge comes, that prison has no escape.

So this is a critical time.  You need to be able to look at the life of Christ, to see His inbreaking of the kingdom of God, that He’s on a journey to restore the world to the One who created it.  That all of His teaching, all of His miracles, are meant to redeem you on your journey.  And that is what we see in our text for today.

The first verse doesn’t mean much to us on the surface.  We’re not part of the culture, it’s not easy to understand.  “Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.”  Note the phrase, “present time.”  Same group of people as before, same crowd, same sermon.

So here we go, what on earth does that mean?  I even had to look it up.  What’s in the details.  One of our professors at Fort Wayne, Dr. Just, said the only time the lay people would have been sacrificing in the temple area was at Passover.  So here we are in the midst of the Passover celebration, and Pilate came and slaughtered some of the Jews, mixing their blood with the blood of the Passover lambs.

To paint a modern picture, thinking of the increasing divisiveness and hatred of the church in America, it would be like the FBI coming through those doors as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper and opening fire, killing us, mixing our blood with the blood of Christ in the sacrament.  A Savior should be outraged.

And they were hoping to make Jesus angry, to stir up His emotions, to get Him to lash out at the Romans and Pilate in particular.  You want us to believe you’re the Messiah, okay, prove it.  Here’s the wickedness of Rome, save us!  That false idea of the Messiah being an earthly king was everywhere.

But as was often the case, Jesus didn’t respond the way they wanted.

Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way?  3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.  4 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?

5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

 

His comparison likely offended them.  But it was a call to the greater picture, to the critical, present time that is part of their journey, His journey.  That the kingdom of God is at hand, that the ministry Christ has shattered the reign of Satan, and we need to change our perspective.

The people pointed at martyrs.  Christ pointed to a natural disaster.  And He used the same grammar, the same sentence structure, and had the exact same response.  They’re the same.  In other words, Christ is pointing out the depths of our sin, the brokenness of creation, and that it ultimately leads to death for all mankind.

Pilate’s actions against the Galilean Jews shouldn’t be viewed as a specific judgment of God for specific sins from specific people.  It’s a judgment of all people, for all have sinned.  And so Christ’s call for repentance is for all people, that we would all repent, lest we all perish.  Our Christian response to suffering and death of any form should be “I deserve the same.  I’m no different than they were.”

When they pointed to martyrs and to Rome, they were thinking too small.  Rome wasn’t the enemy.  Sin is.  Death is.  We are.  And Christ hasn’t come to win a little battle in human history.  He’s come to transform our journey from one of death, to one of life.  Christ has come to conquer sin, death, and hell for us.  And so after we think “I deserve the same. I’m no different than they were,” we should follow that thought with, “praise the Lord that Jesus died in my place, that Jesus forgives my sins so that I can live.”

And our final piece of the text, today at least, is another parable.  But it fits right in, it was said at the same time.

6 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. 7 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?’ 8 “ ‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’ ”

This is the journey, our journey.  The Father, the judge of the universe, looks down and doesn’t see repentance, He doesn’t see fruit.  And so He threatens to bring about judgment, which wouldn’t end well for us.  But Christ intercedes, He buys us a little more time.  Creation has a little while longer until the last day.  You and I and everyone else have a little more time in this present, critical age.  And that’s good news!  That there’s still time for those who don’t know Christ, for those who’ve rejected Christ, for those who are trapped in their sin, there’s still time for the good news to be shared, to be preached, to be heard.  There’s still time for repentance, and that’s good news.

This isn’t about the sins of Israel, the violence of Rome, or the greed of America.  It’s not about the sins of one man and the punishment he deserves for it.  Christ is inviting us to understand the mercy of God, that through this parable we would see every day as a gift, a gift to us, a gift to our family, a gift to our community.  And in this critical present time, Jesus calls us to repent or perish. Because the day is coming when that time runs out.

He calls us to know that in the midst of our own journey filled with sin, suffering, and death, He has finished His journey.  As the critical time draws to a close, we remember, we rejoice in the sacrifice of Christ, in His body and blood shed for us upon the cross for the forgiveness of our sins.  A gift for everyone.  A gift of comfort and hope.  We are called to the foot of the cross, that in our repentance the suffering Christian meets the suffering Savior, and that’s good news.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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