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The Third Sunday of Lent – March 20, 2022

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The Third Sunday of Lent – March 20, 2022

Jesus speaks in an ominous tone. The three calls to repentance (vs. 3, 5, & 9) come on the heels of the threatening parables which conclude chapter twelve. Jesus will not allow his questioners to avoid a direct confrontation with their own sin even as they try to abstract the issue by referring to some Galileans. Jesus denies these questioners the satisfaction of assuming their sin was not as great as those struck-down Galileans. For Jesus, the amount of their sin (and yours) was irrelevant. The issue for him was repentance, not their placement upon some continuum between less sin and more sin. Only repentant sinners escaped perishing and being cut down (vs. 2, 5, & 9).

This threatening behavior on Jesus’ part bears some semblance to an ordinary parent confronting a recalcitrant child. The child remains obstinate in its refusal to amend its behavior. Finally, the parent, perhaps in exasperation, delivers some sort of ultimatum, “You’d better stop doing that, if you know what’s good for you!” Throughout the history of the church, there have been preachers who use this tactic on their congregations, “Turn!  Or burn!” Or, as Jesus puts it, “Repent, or you will perish.”

If repentance was as simple as regretting your bad behavior and promising to behave better in the future, then both preachers and their hearers would have an easier time knowing who had repented and who had not. Repentance, though, is much more complex than simply an emotional motivation to being better behaved. Every religion has incentives for its members to be better behaved. These are threats of punishing consequences (as are laid out in this text) or they are promises of divine reward.  How is Christianity different from all those other religions that use punishments and consequences?

Christianity has Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ who confronts you with the totality of your sin, judging it in its immensity and not incrementally. Repentance is more complex: it demands a turning… a repenting… from death to life… from unbelief to belief… from trust in your own repenting to trust in the forgiveness of sins for Jesus’ sake. Faith in Christ is your repentance unto life… from the old creature to the new creature.

Table Talk: Discuss the differences between simple and complex repentance.
Pray: Father, grant me faith in Christ that I be repented. Amen

Table Talk

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.

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