Summary: The analysis of the topic of repentance as set forth in Luke 13:1-9 teaches that all people must repent if they are to avoid truly perishing.
This is the third Sunday of Advent. Advent is the season of the Christian year in which we remember the first coming of Jesus and also anticipate the second coming of Jesus.
In our study of The Gospel of Luke, Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem from Galilee. He only had a few months left to live before his death. He knew that he was going there to pay the penalty for sin by his death. He would sacrifice his life in order to reconcile sinners with a holy God.
In Luke 12 Jesus gave his followers some very important teaching regarding discipleship. He also gave a series of warnings. Jesus concluded the dialogue with yet another warning.
Let’s read about Jesus’ warning in Luke 13:1-9:
13 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
6 And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ 8 And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. 9 Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’ ” (Luke 13:1-9)
John Mark wrote the book we call The Gospel of Mark. In all likelihood, it was written seven to ten years before Luke wrote The Gospel of Luke. Many scholars believe that The Gospel of Mark was the first Gospel written about the life and ministry of Jesus.
Mark writes the following about the start of Jesus’ ministry, “Now after John [the Baptist] was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel’ ” (Mark 1:14-15; cf. Matthew 4:17).
From then on, “repent and believe in the gospel” is Jesus’ consistent message. In all times and in every situation, Jesus urges people to repent and believe. His message is not only for the religious leaders of his day, it is a message for everyone. Repentance and faith is the key to eternal life.
The analysis of the topic of repentance as set forth in Luke 13:1-9 teaches that all people must repent if they are to avoid truly perishing.
Let’s use the following outline:
1. The Necessity of Repentances (13:1-5)
2. The Urgency of Repentance (13:6-9)
I. The Necessity of Repentance (13:1-5)
First, let’s look at the necessity of repentance.
Luke seems to suggest that chapter 12 is a single discourse by Jesus. Jesus ended his message with a warning to find safety in Christ before it is too late (12:49-59).
At the beginning of chapter 13, Jesus is told about a particularly heinous incident. Jesus used the opportunity to talk about catastrophes, but redirects the focus to what the proper response should be to human atrocities and natural disasters.
A. Human Atrocities Should Cause Us to Repent (13:1-3)
First, human atrocities should cause us to repent.
Luke noted that there were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices (13:1).
Luke is the only Biblical author who mentions this atrocity. We know nothing else about this incident because it is not mentioned in any other historical record.
We do know, however, that Pilate was a ruthless ruler of Judea. One commentator says that “many massacres marked his administration.”
This atrocity presumably took place at the temple in Jerusalem during the Passover. Normally priests made the animal sacrifices, except during the Passover, when pilgrims made their own sacrifices. Apparently, some Galileans were making their sacrifices at the temple, and Pilate had them killed.
Why did Pilate kill these Galileans? We don’t know. The Galileans were there, along with thousands of other pilgrims, offering their sacrifices to God. While they were worshiping, they were killed. Their own blood mixed with the blood of their sacrifices, and this was deeply disturbing to the people of God. To help explain how upset people were when they heard about this, Art Lindsley makes the following comparison, “It would be as if terrorists came into a church and shot worshipers as they were partaking of Communion, then mingled their blood with the Communion wine.”2