2017-08-20 – Luke 13.1-9 – Repent or Perish

2017-08-20 – Luke 13:1-9 Repent or Perish

13 At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”

The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”

2017-08-20 – Luke 13:1-9 Repent or Perish

Good morning everyone. I am so pleased that you chose to spend the morning with us here today. Thank you and God bless you.

This morning we are continuing in the sermon series on The Parables of Jesus. Last week we read the parable of the strong man. Jesus healed a man that had evil spirits, then the Pharisees accused Him of using the power of Satan. Whereupon Jesus told them effectively why would Satan use his powers to remove his demons, it didn’t make sense. No, fact Jesus was more powerful than all the demons and Satan put together. Then through Jesus’ teaching I also presented the understanding how essential unity is within the church. Without unity, kingdoms fall. Now Today’s message is entitled Repent or Perish. And it deals with the parable of the Barren Fig Tree

Please turn in your Bibles to Luke 13:1, Page 76 of the New Testament in the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God.       Let us Pray… 

Again, last week our parable dealt with the issue of Unity, and how essential it is to foster a united church. As we are reading from chapter 13 of Luke today, you should know that at the end of the previous chapter 12, Jesus told the Jewish people about the cost of division. In verse 51 He said: 51 Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! 52 From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; 53 they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” – This shows the Cost of being divided as a people towards God. Then Jesus finishes up the chapter 12 by pleading with them to open their eyes, that the Messiah Savior they were waiting for and looking for is right before them. But unfortunately many didn’t listen, and they would be judged for their stubbornness. Jesus loved them, and He even wept over Jerusalem. So with that setup, lets read Luke 13, verse 1:

13 At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
This first verse today is referring to an event that we have very little information about, as it isn’t mentioned anywhere else in scripture. We can presume that Pontius Pilate, who was a Roman governor under the emperor Tiberius, didn’t like these Galilean Jews, and for some reason Pilot had them killed. This is the same man that later crucified Jesus. These Galileans were going to the temple to present a sacrifice for their sins as they probably have done many times before, but this time Pilate and his Roman soldiers slaughtered them and perhaps desecrated the temple in the process. A horrible incident indeed.

So this was the tragic news of the day that people were talking about. You should also know that Jesus was raised in Nazareth of Galilee so they probably thought He would be interested to know about this horrendous event.

This reminds me of all the horrible news we hear or watch on the television these days. And unfortunately most all the cable channels take some extreme right or left political position on all the topics, and I tell you I am pretty much fed up with it all. Recently I have temporarily boycotted all cable news for that reason. Although the Disciples didn’t have cable or the internet in their day, tragic news still spread quickly, and they shared it with Jesus. In verse 2 it says:

He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans?

One human trait that Jesus was confronting here was that people thought that these Galileans might have done something to deserve this punishment. Jesus challenged the people’s notion that they were morally superior in some way to those who suffered. Jesus knew what they were thinking, He could read their minds. He demonstrated that gift over and over in scripture. He did it then and He can still do it today. Nothing is hidden from God. Then He said:

No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did.

People are funny, and I am no exception; we most always think that bad things can happen to other people, but not me; especially when were are young. And Jesus was pointing out the flaw in their thinking. You see He didn’t go around making friends and handing out flowers and glad tidings. Jesus was real, and many times the message He shared was not pleasant to hear. Sometimes we need our sins pointed out as well don’t we.  Then Jesus gives them and us another incident example that we again know nothing specific about..

Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”

The idea is, that we shouldn’t look on a tragedy and quickly think that it was something they did to deserve the fate they received. During Jesus’ ministry, He consistently tried to get the people to think in different ways. He wanted to change their paradigm. But Jesus always showed compassion, regardless if it was a single incident or if it was a cultural norm that was out of whack with God’s will.

Remember the time that Jesus came upon a blind man, and the Disciples asked Jesus who sinned his family or the blind man to deserve this punishment.
Jesus said again, that it was none of that. Instead it was so that Jesus be could be provided the opportunity to show mercy and display a miraculous act.
We shouldn’t automatically assume negative characteristics for the victims.

And remember what happened to Job in the Old Testament; which by the way is believed to be the oldest book in the Bible. Job experienced so much pain and suffering, losing everything he had.. and then his friends came around and told him he should repent from his sin and die. But also you should recall that at the beginning of that book of Job it said that he was a very righteous person. So even his friends showed their knee jerk thoughts and was critical upon a good man.

The main resolve that Jesus is trying to get them to understand; trying to get them to think differently, is we are all guilty sinners. None of us deserve anything good to happen to us at all. And in fact all of us deserve the worst of punishments that can happen to us. And unless we repent from our sin, we deserve to be cast into hell for all eternity.

Jesus isn’t declaring these people innocent, he is declaring instead that we are all guilty. We have only Gods standard to measure ourselves with, not each other. And if everyone in this room got what they truly deserved, then none of us would be here today. God consistently gives us daily mercies instead. The word mercy means not getting what we deserve. And the word grace is getting what we don’t deserve. What we deserve is eternal judgement, but as Christians we aren’t getting that.. Instead we are getting eternal mercy by going to heaven because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, dying for our sin. Everyone say “Thank You Jesus”..

Notice twice Jesus said in these verses the term “Unless you repent”. But in the Greek it actually shows a difference between the two statements. The first time it is used it means once and for all, and the second time it is used it means ongoing repentance. Both types of repentance are important because we believe that when we publically profess Christ as our Savior and repent or turn away from sin, then we are saved for all of eternity. However, we all continue to sin, and the blessings we receive daily are sometimes withheld because of the sin in our lifes.

And the word sin is also interesting. It is used most exclusively within the church. If you walk up to somebody on the street and tell them they are sinning, most people wouldn’t know what to do with that. In the church we know what to do with sin.. We bring it to the cross, and we repent daily from it. We go to the Father and we say Lord I know You made provision for my sin. Through Your son Jesus we can be forgiven, therefore I will give it to you now.

It is because we sin that God sent His Son Jesus in the first place. That is the Gospel or “Good News”. And for that reason I say Hallelujah, Praise the Lord.

Question for you, has our society as a whole improved or gotten worse as time goes by? It has gotten worse, in fact the Bible says that Men will be lovers of themselves before the end times come. I tell you we’ve got to be getting close, because there is so much sin in the world it seems.. and it is saddens to see it.

 

Then in our verses today, Jesus presents this Parable of the Barren Fig Tree

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here!

The fig tree represents the Israel nation. Jesus is telling a story that God, who created this world planted a Fig Tree in the middle of it.. Israel..

The fig tree is actually the third tree to be mentioned by name in the Hebrew Bible. The first is the Tree of life and the second is the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Then Adam and Eve used the leaves of the fig tree to sew garments for themselves after they sinned and realized that they were naked (Genesis 3:7)

The fig tree and the fig fruit are mentioned several times in both the old and new testaments.

I looked it up and found that the fruit is good for your bones, good for your heart, it is high in fiber and even helps stabilize blood sugar levels.

Say “Figs are good” lol

Interesting to know that Jesus had another “Fig Tree” incident in the New Testament as recorded in the book of Mathew 21, that has relevance on our message today. It reads:

The Barren Fig Tree

 18 Early in the morning, as he was returning to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, he went up to it and found nothing on it except leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” At once the fig tree withered.

20 When the disciples saw it, they were amazed and said, “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?”

21 Jesus answered them, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you tell this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will be done.22 And if you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

That teaching moment from Jesus was primarily about faith and purpose. Israel, like the fig tree was without purpose. It didn’t satisfy its God given purpose; and more than that, they rejected God Incarnate, Jesus Christ. Interesting parallel indeed.

Back to Luke 13, our parable today continues, it says:

For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’

I love the semblance here.. Remember Jesus’ ministry was for three years as well, from His baptism to His ascending into Heaven. And this fig tree is just like the other one in Matthew wasn’t baring any fruit. Israel wasn’t baring any fruit either.

So you might be asking yourselves, what is the fruit? For that I turn to Micah 6. It is the last of the books in the Old Testament. Under the heading called What God Requires. Verse 6 says:

“With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

When Jesus got to Jerusalem he was looking for this fruit.. But what did he find, nothing. And later Jesus actually says in that regard, that the Jews lost their first love. They got so wrapped up into their laws and statutes that no longer produced any fruit. No Justice, no loving kindness and they surely not humble.

 

Back to the Fig tree in the parable, verse 8

He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”

The Gardner is asking the owner for mercy. But also notice what it says, that gardener didn’t just sit back and watch.. Jesus is the Gardener and He did everything to make an environment so that fruit could be gotten. A gardener gets that Miracle Grow.. waters it.. nurtures it..

God gave the Jewish nation all kinds of chances to get things right and He even sent His only Son to show them how to do it, but they didn’t acknowledge Him.

After Jesus ascended into heaven, God gave Israel another 35 years to repent before it was demolished by the Romans. That same Jesus is giving each of us some time to consider. Time to grow some fruit, which is the evidence of a changed life.

In these verses today, the Jews had two tragic examples showing their fragile mortality. And Jesus tried to refocus their attention from what is temporary circumstance, to think instead on their eternal perspectives and repent. Despite the many attempts by Jesus to turn them around they refused to trust Him.

Back in Luke 12, Jesus said, “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!

You see, albeit tough to stay focused on God and Heaven, that is exactly what Jesus is asking of us to do.  And what is in your hearts, bears true in the fruit of your character and actions. Jesus wants to see you bear fruit, He wants you to accept His gift of eternal life. And just like the gardener in the parable, Jesus isn’t giving up on you. He is digging around you, He is putting a little Miracle Grow on you, and giving you some Son-shine and Holy Spirit living water to bring you around. He wants you to grow, be healthy and bloom and bear much fruit. And it all starts with a decision.

The Hidden Line of No Return by J. Addison Alexander

There is a time, we know not when,
A point we know not where,
That marks the destiny of men
To glory or despair.

There is a line by us unseen,
That crosses every path;
The hidden boundary between
God’s patience and His wrath.

How long may we go on in sin?
How long will God forbear?
Where does hope end, and where begin
The confines of despair?

An answer from the skies is sent;
“Ye that from God depart,
While it is called today, repent,
And harden not your heart.”

Are you ready to make that decision today?

[Alter Call & Prayer] – Please Stand..