Lent is a very emotional time of year. Luke 13 is a very emotional part of God’s word. Here is an illustration.
The Pharisees came to Jesus and told him to get lost. Don’t you know that you’re not being heard? People are irritated by your teachings. They tried to kill you in your own home town of Nazareth. Now Herod wants to kill you. So, for the good of all concerned, Jesus, get lost.
Hearing these unkind words, many people would have left the area. Not so with Jesus. He replied to the Pharisees, “Go tell that fox, ÔI will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day Ð for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!” The Father had set his agenda, and it would be accomplished.
Jesus’ days among them were now limited, so speaking to them in love, he said, “Unless you repent, you too will perish.” In the first part of this chapter, Christ talks about their sin. Let’s take a look at three of these thoughts.
First, Jesus asks a question: “Do you think these Galileans who had suffered were worse sinners than the other Galileans whose lives were comparatively free of suffering?” To put it in words that might be easier for us to understand, we could say, Do you think those people who suffered so severely in the Haiti earthquake are more sinful that those of us who live in America? He wanted to remind them that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. All people need a Savior (13:1-3).
Second, Jesus told them the story of the fig tree that bore no fruit. When the owner of the vineyard told the gardener to cut the tree down, he willingly gave the tree another year to produce fruit. This is an example of God’s grace. He is always ready to produce fruit (13:6-9).
Third, when Jesus healed a woman who had been crippled for eighteen years, the synagogue ruler was angry, for He healed her on the Sabbath. Jesus asked, “You water your animals on the Sabbath, should not this woman be healed on the Sabbath?” (13:10-16).
Jesus’ ministry was personal and to the point. He reminded them that their self-righteous attitude prevented a personal relationship with God, and they needed to confess their own sins and turn to him. This message was not appreciated then, nor is it today by many.
We might ask why Jesus taught this way. He knew it would anger them.
Jesus loved them and wanted them to be saved. The first step to salvation is repentance, and so confessing their sins was necessary. He teaches an eternal biblical principle: If we confess our sins, he will forgive us, but without repentance, there is no forgiveness of sins.
But now we experience the love for people when Jesus speaks these words: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ÔBlessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'”
God in his love sent his prophets, and the people stoned them. Now Jesus had come, and they would crucify him. What will it take to bring men and women to faith? Jesus can enrich their lives and give them eternal life.
I once heard a pastor say, “I believe Christ suffered more looking over Jerusalem and seeing their rejection of God’s grace than he did bearing the physical pain of Calvary’s cross.”
Dare we apply Jesus’ words to ourselves or to our nation?
In love our Savior pleads with us to repent. But we go on our merry way with our immorality, dishonesty, profanity, and neglect of his Word. We join the church mistakenly feeling that doing so will put us into a personal relationship with the Lord. Millions of people who have their names on a church book do not know the Savior. Jesus Christ pleads with them to receive him into their life this day.
Our reply to his pleading comes in our lifestyle as well as our words. I cannot be fanatical about religion. After all, I have a life to live.
While we may not tell him to get lost in the sense that we never want him around, we do at times want him gone for a little while. It’s like a girl telling her brother to get lost so she can spend a few minutes alone with her boyfriend.
Relationships between people can reach a point when their child must ask the parent to let them control their own life. “I’m thirty years old now and have a husband and children. It is necessary for my husband and me to make our own decisions as to how we will conduct our life.”
This is a nice way for the daughter to ask her mother to back off; and it might be legitimate if it is said with love and never with the thought that she would not need her mother’s good advice in the future. However, we should never think that telling Christ to get out of our life is legitimate. We have no privacy from Jesus when he is our Lord. Jesus walks with his children every step of the way, wherever they go.