Summary: Jesus call to repent for the kingdom of God is near

31. Who is Jesus?

April 03rd, 2010

Repent or Perish

Luke 13:1. Jesus has been hitting some hard points as teaches these crowds who have gathered around Him. He has brought up one of the more controversial ideas in Scripture: hell. So let’s talk about hell for a minute. We have some whacky ideas about it. Most people seem to think that hell is for bad people and heaven is for good people. So when a good person dies we ask: is loving God really going to send a good person to hell? No. God does not send any good people to hell. Hell is not a place for bad people. Heaven is not a place for good people. The afterlife is not eternal karma. Hell is for people who reject Jesus. Heaven is for people who lived their lives for Jesus and followed after Him to the best of their ability. Hell will be full of bad people. Heaven will be full of bad people. The difference is one set accepted Jesus in their lives and fought against their own sinful nature and they accepted His offer of grace through His death on the cross. In the history of the world only one good person ever lived and the rest of us nailed Him to a cross.

As uncomfortable as it may be, hell is real place. Jesus talks to us about it so that we can understand the cost of not following Him. Jesus warns us about hell because Jesus loves us and doesn’t want to see anyone go there. Religion uses the fear of hell to force people into obedience: do what we say, follow our rules, or we will condemn you to the fire of hell. The real reason we should discuss hell is because we love people and we don’t want them to go there.

If your child was running towards oncoming traffic would you say: oh, its ok that works for them, it is their choice. No! You would cry out for them to stop and to change their ways, to go in another direction. It is not because you are narrow minded or intolerant it is because you love them and want them to be safe.

Lk 13:1 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Lk 13:2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? Lk 13:3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Lk 13:4 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? Lk 13:5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Luke refers to a massacre that we really don’t know much about. What we do know is that Pilate was the governor of Judea. Pilate was known as a cruel and violent man and Judea was very rebellious area which creates a nice powder keg; ready to go off. It’s like sticking Mary Stewart and Oscar the grouch together, it is going to get ugly.

So as best we can tell we have some Galileans who were travelling to Jerusalem to offer their sacrifices to God. These guys were believers. They were going to the temple of God to worship of Him. They probably traveled for several days carrying their sacrifices. They would have gone through ritual purification, walked up to the temple, confessed their sins, made an offering, and they were making a sacrifice to God to atone for their sins when they were murdered. These guys were obeying God, they were trying to do the right thing and they died. How is that right? How is that fair?

When people die we ask why. We don’t really like death. We try to ignore it, avoid it, and pretend it doesn’t happen. The Jews blamed death on punishment from God against sinners. So when God honoring people died they got confused. We are not that different. When someone dies we ask God why? Why did they die? Why did you take them away? The Jews said: well they must have been bad people. That is stupid.

What we say: it’s all part of God’s plan. God has a reason. God took them, it was His decision but it’s ok, you don’t have to feel bad about the tragic loss of your loved ones because God has a reason. That is equally stupid. I’ve heard people say to mothers who lost their children, God just wanted another angel in heaven. Not true. God does not kill people. Sin kills people. Without sin there would be no death. Don’t blame tragedy on God, He’s not the one who ate the apple. Tragedy is a natural consequence of living in a fallen world. We are bad. We do bad things, so bad things happen to people. Could God stop that? Yes. Does He have the power to prevent us from doing evil? Yes. So when evil happens does that mean that God doesn’t care? No.

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