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Luke 12:49-13:9: Unless you repent... Print E-mail
Sunday, 30 June 2013

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Some people consider repenting their whole lives.  Perhaps they grew up in Church, or maybe they work with believers, or maybe they just have a sense that some of the things they are doing in their life are wrong, either way, they spend time thinking about repenting.  They feel guilty and sorry at times.  They wonder if repenting will help with that.  They worry about punishment and what might happen after they die.  They think a lot about repentance.  Yet, they just never get around to actually doing it.  They put it off to another time.  They want to think about it some more.  They are just not sure they want to give up doing what they are doing.  So they wait and they think and they keep on doing what they have always done.

Maybe that is you this morning.  Maybe you came in thinking about repentance.  Or maybe it describes someone you know and love.  In our time together focusing on our passage from Luke, I want us to consider some reasons why we should repent today.  It is not easy to identify why Luke groups some of these verses together, but one theme that runs through them all is the absolute necessity of repentance.  So then, let’s consider these reasons together.  I pray they will encourage you in your own repentance and in calling others to do the same.

First, we should repent because judgment is coming (12:49-53).

In one sense, the theme of judgment runs through all these verses.  Jesus has just warned us about what will happen to unfaithful servants, namely they will be punished (see 12:42-48).  Although it is not explicit in all of His teaching here, it is at least implied.  Look at what He says in verse 49.  Jesus has come to bring fire.  At times, fire can refer to other ideas, but in this context it seems to obviously be referring to judgment.  When Jesus came the first time, it was the beginning of the end.  Now that He has died on the cross and been raised from the dead and sent us the Holy Spirit, we are now only waiting one final event in redemptive history: His return to judge.  The fire of judgment is coming.

After speaking of His coming baptism, which we will consider in a moment, Jesus goes on to describe the division that He brings.  Look at verses 51-53.  Doesn’t Jesus bring peace?  Why does He say here that He does not?  There is a sense in which Jesus brings peace between God and those who turn from their sins and believe in Him.  This is the peace that the New Testament writers speak of (Luke 2:14, Romans 5:1).  Yet, in another sense, Jesus brings division as well.  Not all will turn from their sins and believe in Him.  Not all will repent.  Some will, but others will not.  Thus, as we have seen in Luke, Jesus will divide all of humanity into two groups: those who repent and follow Him and those who don’t.  This is the great divide.  It will divide countries and nations.  It will divide homes and families.  It will divide fathers and sons, mothers and daughters.  What we do with Jesus can bring peace between us and the Father, but it can also bring division between us and the rest of the world.  One group will be purified by the fire that Jesus brings.  The other group will be punished for their refusal to repent and believe.  They will face the wrath of God for their unbelief.

So then, when you think about repentance, have you considered the coming judgment?  There will only be two groups on that day: those who have repented and believed in Jesus and those who have not.  The reality of the coming judgment means we should not wait to repent.  We should stop considering and turn to Christ.  Likewise, the coming judgment means we should stop putting off calling others to repent and believe in Christ. 

Second, we should repent because the time is short (12:54-59, 13:6-9)

Someone might object: ‘Yeah, so judgment is coming, but that does not mean that I have to repent today.  I will just wait until I get older or until circumstances are better.’  Jesus tells us why such an approach is foolish.  Look at verses 54-56.  In the area surrounding Jerusalem, it was easy to predict the weather.  If you saw a cloud gathering over the Mediterranean Sea, then it was good chance that rain was coming soon.  If you felt a hot wind coming from the desert, then you knew it was going to be hot.  It did not take much to predict this.  Since they could so easily predict these weather events, it would seem that they would be able to understand the spiritual events that were taking place around them, namely the coming of the Son of God.  Yet, they missed it.  They could not believe that the Messiah was among them.

Jesus uses a different illustration in verses 57-59.  Look at those with me.  If you are about to appear before a judge and you know you are guilty, it stands to reason that you would do what you could to settle the affair before you got to the judge.  If we apply this scenario to the coming judgment that Jesus has been taking about, then the application is obvious: we should make things right while we still have the chance.  We should not be waiting around.  If we make that mistake, if we keep waiting to repent until it is too late, then judgment will come and we will pay for our sins by spending eternity in Hell.  Thus, why would we wait?

Jesus goes on to use one more illustration in 13:6-9.  Look at those verses with me.  The analogy of the vineyard is common in the Old Testament.  Isaiah warned Israel of the coming judgment by comparing her to a vineyard that did not yield a crop (Isaiah 5:1-7).  In the parable here, Jesus notes that patience will be shown since one more year is granted for the tree.  But such patience is meant to lead to repentance.  Paul says a similar thing: Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? (Romans 2:4).  God is not patient so that we can keep on sinning and sow our wild oats.  God’s patience and kindness is meant to lead us to repentance.

In your thinking about repentance, have you considered that time is running out?  Have you thought about the fact that judgment is only a breath away?  People die every day.  Do not put off repenting any longer.  Do not put off warning others either.  We will all stand before the Judge soon, so we must not put off making things right.  The axe is laid at the root.  Do not delay.

Third, we should repent because we are all sinners (13:1-5)

Maybe the reason that you are waiting on repentance is because you don’t feel like your sins are all that bad.  Sure, they are not good, but they are not nearly as bad as everyone else.  Thus, you will get around to repenting when you feel like your sins are bad enough.  Jesus has something to say about this as well.  Look at 13:1-3.  Apparently some Galileans had come to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices at the Temple.  While they were there, Pilate had them executed and their blood was mixed with the blood of their sacrifices.  It was a gruesome event.  And it seems that many believed that such a terrible death indicated that these Galileans were worse sinners.  After all, how could such a bad thing happen to them if they were good people?  But Jesus corrects such thinking.  This did not happen because they were somehow worse sinners than all the rest of us.  To assume that their sin is worse than our own is a dangerous and faulty assumption.  All our sin is worthy of death.  All of our sin is worthy of judgment.

Jesus gives another illustration in verses 4-5.  Look at those with me.  Jesus describes another tragedy: eighteen people were killed when a tower fell on them in Jerusalem.  Once again He asks if this happened to them simply because they were worse sinners.  The answer is a resounding ‘no’.  This tragedy did not strike them because they were worse sinners than us.  All our sins are worthy of such a tragedy.  We have a hard time believing that because we have a hard time believing that our sins are that bad.  Sure other people may be worthy of a tragedy, but not us.  Our sins are just not that bad. 

When I think about the Supreme Court’s decision this week concerning same-sex marriage, I fear that we might take such an approach to homosexuality.  We might consider that sin worse than others.  We might look at those who struggle with this sin as ‘worse offenders’ than those who struggle with other sins.  But Jesus warns us against making this mistake.  We need to see the necessity of repentance for all sin.  All sins demand repentance.  Not just the ones that we think are worse than others.  All sins will lead to punishment unless we repent.

So in your thinking about repentance, have you considered your own sin?  We cannot afford to ignore or minimize our own sin.  We cannot look around at the sin of others and try to be comforted by thinking that our sin is not that bad.  Jesus warns us against making such a mistake.  Rather, we need to see the ugliness of our lust, our anger, our gossip, our selfishness.  We need to be honest with ourselves.  We need to recognize that our sin, just like everybody else’s sin, is worthy of judgment.  And such truth should lead us to repent.  Not tomorrow, not a few years from now, not when it is more convenient.  No, we should repent today.

The only question that we might still be wrestling with is this: what hope do we have in repentance?  How do we know that if we repent of our sins we will be forgiven?  Look again at verse 50.  Jesus tells us that He will soon be facing a baptism that distresses even Him.  What kind of baptism could distress the Son of God?  The baptism of His death under the wrath of God.  In just a short time, Jesus will be beaten and nailed to a cross.  He will suffer and die for the sins of the world.  It will be the darkest moment in all of history, symbolized by three hours of darkness on Good Friday.  Such sacrifice will not be easy for Jesus.  It will not be easy for Him to die under the wrath of His Father.  Yet, this is why He came. 

He was born of a virgin to die the death of a criminal in our place.  And the good news, the reason why we can know that our repentance is not in vain, is that three days later the Father raised Him from the dead.  Jesus’ resurrection means that our sins can be forgiven.  His baptism on the cross accomplished our justification from sin.  So what are you waiting for?  Why put off repentance any longer?  Judgment is coming, but Christ came to redeem you.  The time is short, but Jesus died so that you don’t have to wait another second.  Your sins are great, but His resurrection means that they are not too great.  You can be forgiven today.  So repent!  Turn from your sins and believe in Jesus today.  Do not delay.  Repent and be saved!  Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Friday, 19 July 2013 )

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