One day in Jerusalem Jesus was confronted with some people coming to Him with the news that Pontius Pilate had recently had some Galileans killed whilst offering their sacrifices at the temple (Luke 13:1). Such news could either have been to warn Him about the ruthless way in which Pilate dealt with insurrections or to incite Him to take up His presumed identity as the Saviour of Israel and overthrow the Roman occupiers.
Apparently, this story had been the water cooler talk in Jerusalem. Had these men had it coming? Were they under judgement by God? Had they met with Judgement because of Sin? Perhaps that was the official line of the day from the ruling Sanhedrin, they had a pact with Rome that they didn’t want to upset so downplaying or distancing themselves from the tragedy would have been a move politically.
Insurrections were rife and Galilee had more than it’s share of stoushes, they had made a name for themselves, but Jesus doesn’t talk about the tragedy. He talks directly to the larger problem that people weren’t talking about, repentance.
Unless you repent you will likewise perish.
Jesus directs the listeners attention to the fact that these men that met a tragic end at the hands of Pilate were not any worse than anyone else, Sin hadn’t caused their downfall. He brings in another recent memory tragedy for His listeners, a group of eighteen Jerusalemites that the tower of Siloam fell on.
‘Do you suppose that these eighteen were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem?’ Vs4.
Jesus then again says, “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”
Jesus points out that repentance was needed otherwise his listeners would perish. Repent from what though? Perhaps it was to repent of the held belief that Jesus was to be a military saviour that would lead the Jewish nation to overthrow the Romans a prevalent idea, especially when we compare Christs entry to Jerusalem on a donkey with that of Juda Maccabees a century or so earlier who overthrew the Greek overlords.
Repentance. This word can bring up in us a range of emotions and thoughts. It’s a french word meaning to turn around and go back the way you were coming. Perhaps this isn’t the best word to describe the act of repentance.
Μετανοεω is the Greek word used to describe it. That means to change one’s mind. Not just change your mind like we may do on any subject, but to start off on a new way a new road a new path. It’s like a paradigm shift.
The beauty in repentance is that it is also a spiritual action of getting our heart, mind and body now in line with what God’s will is. It is aligning our Spirit and wills with God’s will.
It’s a beautiful place to be. Aligned within the loving Fathers Will. It is the best freedom mankind can experience.
Why don’t we talk about repentance in church as much now? Is it because it’s unpopular? Is it because it makes people feel uneasy? Are we in danger of sanitising the gospel without it? Repentance is and always will be a challenge to our perception of freedom. Our wills that always compete for the thrones in our hearts.
Let us embrace repentance for what it is. A god given choice to free will, to choose to align ourselves with the One who knows what is best, has planned the best for us and enter into that deeper relationship and the Spirit filled life that awaits us.
Perhaps the listeners that day left that conversation challenged. Maybe they picked up on the warning that Jesus gave them, ‘Don’t mistake your good fortune that you weren’t caught up in these tragedies with God’s blessing on you.’ Jesus then went on to teach in a parable about a tree that is in danger and gets a reprieve for one last chance to bear fruit.
Once again, we are drawn to what Jesus was saying and it speaks to us today; ‘People, life is precarious, you don’t know when your life will end. Get your hearts in line with God so when your day comes even if it is sudden it won’t be even more tragic for the life to come.’