March 23

Luke 13:1-5

“No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.” vs. 5

Mass tragedies were common in Jesus’ world. Not only were the dominating powers cruel and unjust, there were few if any construction standards…death was always close at hand. Of course people wondered about such things, and there was often a tendency to blame the victims, that they’d been killed because of their sin. Jesus refutes such a notion, but then uses the tragic incidents to make a point that we’ve seen written on countless freeway billboards, “Repent, or perish!” Some don’t like it that Jesus said such a thing, and we struggle to find ways to take the sting from his words. We have a strong preference for the cultural caricature that has developed in progressive circles. We want our Jesus to be always gentle, loving, kind, and forgiving, one from whom we never hear a discouraging word and who approves of all that we do. Not only is such a picture false, it’s horribly misleading! Jesus was deeply concerned with our behaviors and rightly saw that change is an essential ingredient of every person’s life. The gospels report that the core of his teaching was a call to repentance. That’s how it is with unconditional love…it always challenges us to be our better selves and not be content with slipshod living and life without standards.

Thought for the Day: What’s my gut-level response to “Repent or Perish”?

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