You can be a changed person. That is the message of gospel. 2 Cor. 5:17 proclaims: “…those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!” (NLT). The promise of God is that the way you think, your values, your behavior, the way you respond to drama, can be transformed. God does not give up on you, don’t you give up on yourself, don’t you accept bad behavior, sinful thoughts, destructive patterns. Don’t you dare say, “this is just the way I am and I can’t change.” You can, because the Lord Jesus Christ promises to be with you. The Lord Jesus Christ came to redeem you. Redemption is not only a future glory of eternal life with God, but it is a present transformation so that you become a different person.
The Lord Jesus Christ is giving you a second chance. Draw a line! Put aside yesterday. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Through the promise of God you can be a different person. Did you notice Luke 13:3 & 5 are exactly the same. READ. The command of God is to repent. The goal of God for humankind is salvation. The method is repentance, to admit that you are a sinner and then allow God to change you into a new creature. I like the quotation of Charles Spurgeon: “If you are renewed by grace, and were to meet your old self, I am sure you would be very anxious to get out of his company.” i.e. A seasoned Christian who has met Christ may not even care for the person they once were… I love talking with the precious saints of God who look back at their younger years and wonder why they worried so much, why they behaved the way they did, why they spent so much time in activities that were destructive or added very little to their life. To look back and see changes is a sign of repentance. For the Christian, repentance is not a one time occasional action to admit I am a sinner, but it is a commitment to invite Christ to constantly show me and teach me the better way so that everything changes.
Jesus uses two contemporary tragedies to highlight the need for a life of repentance. One is a murder (READ Luke 13:1) and the other appears to be a freak accident (READ Luke 13:4). Jesus does not answer all our questions about why bad things happen. It’s natural for us to think that when things go wrong why am I being punished, why doesn’t God love me, why do I deserve this, but with Jesus’ non answer, I kind of take that to mean there is not intellectual reason: bad things happen because they do…. I don’t know why some get ill and others are blessed with good health and a long life. God does not love the person less that has an accident any more than the person who stays safe.
Reading between the lines the people who come to him asking about the Jews killed while sacrificing seem to believe bad things happen because of sin ~ Jesus responds by saying we are all sinners so if that were the case we would all be struck dead.
The two tragedies have a few things in common: In the case of the Galileans who are murdered while offering sacrifices, it must be significant they are offering sacrifices. Sacrificing shows me they are seeking forgiveness…. Rather than taking the bait from those who come to Jesus wanting to know about the sins of those who were killed, I think the opposite is true: they were seeking forgiveness, they are examples of people who were looking to repent. To me, Jesus is saying you are getting the wrong lesson out of this tragedy: this isn’t about how sinful the people are who were murdered, it is about the fact that they were sacrificing. You too repent while there is still time. You too go to God asking him to change you by forgiving your sins and changing your life.
The other tragedy Jesus himself brings up seems to be an accident: 18 people died when the tower of Siloam fell on them. The tower was at the pool of Siloam. If you go to Jersusalem today you can still see the ruins. The pool is a place Jews went for purification. These folks are examples used by Jesus of people seeking to be changed, purified, made holy for God. They did not die because they are sinners, but rather, they were people seeking reconciliation with God and they died. Repent while there is still time because you never know. Bad things happen in the world, sometimes because of evil and sometimes because bad things happen. Seek the peace of God through a life of repentance. You never know what the next moment may bring.
Another comment on the Galileans who were murdered: Is this a foreshadowing of the cross? Pilate has the Galileans murdered. The purpose of the sacrifice is that the animal dies in place of the person offering the sacrifice. On that day, they are murdered: their “blood [is] mixed with their sacrifices.” Is this a reminder for us to never take the sacrifice for granted, not just a game, but death is what is deserved for sin? May we never take confession of sin for granted. I used to work in the registrars office at Fuller Seminary. On a handful of occasions a student came in that missed a deadline ~ a class did not get dropped properly so they received a failing grade, or they took too long in turning in paperwork so weren’t getting as much refund of money as expected. The rules were clear. In frustration I heard many times, “But this is a Christian School, you have to give me grace!”… Something bad happens, and we get angry with God because it appears grace is being withheld, and we don’t get it. It is dangerous to turn grace into law, something God has to do! The fact that the Galileans are murdered while sacrificing is a sobering reminder as sinners we deserve death. God, in His mercy, sent Jesus Christ to the cross to die for my sins.
Pilate orchestrated the murders. This same Pilate, the governor of the land appointed by the Romans, has absolute power to be judge and executioner of the people. We have no clue as to why he murdered the Galileans. Jesus later stands before Pilate, the governor. This same Pilate is the one who decided he did NOT want the blood of Jesus on his hands, so he washes his hands of the whole affair (Matt. 27:19) and passes Jesus on to Herod, the puppet King of Israel (Luke 23:7). Pilate has far more real power than does Herod. Interesting that the higher court would pass the case to a lower court, not the normal way the law works. Jesus, from Nazareth, is a Galilean as were the men who were murdered while sacrificing. Pilate could have stopped the crucifixion of Jesus, but he instead chose to NOT choose, which is a choice… the men of Galilee were put to death while sacrificing, while seeking restoration with God. They were pilgrims having traveled from Galilee to Jerusalem to be set right with God, and they were killed. Surely this is a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ, a Galilean, who became the ultimate sacrifice. His blood was not mixed with the sacrifice, His/ blood/ is/ the/ sacrifice./
Jesus puts a caption on the murder of the Galileans who are going to God for restoration: REPENT. God has not given up on you. You can change, because Jesus Christ took your place in death. He is the sacrifice. Repent while you still have time. The Galileans were sacrificing, the ones who were killed by a falling tower were seeking purification.
Jesus underlines the importance of repenting by telling a story about a fig tree that is not producing figs as it should; the owner wants to chop it down, but the gardener convinces the owner to give the tree a second chance. A fig tree normally takes three years to reach maturity. If it is not fruiting by that time it is not likely to fruit at all. It only makes sense to chop down the fig tree because it is taking up valuable space. Just as the fig tree is given another chance, so God gives us a second chance. Repent while there is time. God is the God of second chances. Confess your sins, admit that you worry, doubt, hold back, have wrong priorities, and ask God to transform your mind, heart, hands and feet. The way you think, feel and do.
Repentance is a way of life that is not just about admitting sin and saying you are sorry, but asking the Lord to change you completely. I love the story from the great Welsh Revivals of the 19th century. The Holy Spirit came upon people in a powerful way. They became so aware of their sin and the need to repent that the whole culture was transformed. Conviction was strong, and many people felt a need to set things right. But it created an unexpected problem for the shipyards along the coast of Wales. Over the years, workers had stolen everything from wheelbarrows to ropes to hammers. As people sought to be right with God, they began to return what they had taken. The result was that the shipyards of Wales were soon overwhelmed with returned property. There were such huge stockpiles of returned tools that several of the yards put up signs that read, “If you have been led by God to return what you have stolen, please know that the management forgives you and wishes you to keep what you have taken.”
That’s what God does with us. As we repent, as we change, we may not be able to go back and undo all our past sins ~ life is linear and we can only undo so much. God wants our heart, mind and our lives and dwells in us so we go forward in a New Spirit.
Maybe you feel like a lot has gone wrong in your life. Bad choices. Victim of evil at the hands of others. Maybe you feel like you have struck out. The invitation of God is that through repentance, through the desire to be a changed person in Christ, the Lord Jesus Christ is offering you a Second Chance. Repent while you have time. Anybody here need another chance; a new beginning; a clean slate? We serve the God of second chances. Our sins can never be greater than the grace of God. Our failure can never be greater than the love of God. As long as we have breath it is never too late. Repent while there is time. God is the God of second chances. Amen.