Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
303-665-6105
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Lent 3 – March 3, 2013 – Luke 13:1-9 “Repentance And Faith”

Introduction:  Grace be to you and peace, from God our Father, and from our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.  Our text is the Gospel Lesson just read, from Luke 13.  We begin with prayer.

Dear fellow disciples of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ:

  • Much has been made of the rather extreme weather many parts of America have suffered of late.  Hurricanes seem to be more destructive than in the past.  Tornadoes seem more abundant.  We’ve had horrible floods, and much of the west is in severe drought.  Many lives have been lost in these natural disasters – and even the President of our nation has expressed notice and concern. 
  • Wonderment about the cause of such disasters has been around for a long time – as we can see from our text.  People have always pondered as to why certain people would have to suffer and die from such violent accidents and even from the wicked and wretched violence perpetrated by human beings against other human beings.  The thought seems to naturally come into our minds that these victims have somehow deserved what has befallen them. 
  • Jesus clearly indicates that this is a dangerous and reprehensible response to the suffering of others.  In fact, he makes it clear that if we were judged on the basis of our sin – “we’ve all got it coming to us.”  So, our first response when we are spared should be “thank God that we don’t get what we deserve.”  For that would be immediate punishment and death for our sins, and an eternity spent in the utter torment of hell.
  • We don’t like this judgment – but it is truthful and real.  The fact that we don’t like it reveals the real darkness of our sinful thinking, that:

 

I.  Our Sinful Nature Desires And Insists That We Compare Favorably To Others, That We Deserve God’s Goodness And Blessings, And Not His Wrath And Destruction

 

Text:  “Jesus answered them,  ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way?  . . . Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them:  do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?’

Statement:  You see the logic – even as you have probably applied it to others and to yourselves from time to time.  They perished – we are safe; therefore, they must have done something horrible while we did not, and so God’s punishment fell upon them and not upon us. 

 

Or perhaps you are a bit more noble in your judgment upon others, and you have been indignant about something that has befallen another.  Your logic goes this way:  “Why, I can’t believe that this could happen to [so and so] – they are as nice a person as I am.  It just isn’t fair!”  Here we again deny our own sin and guilt – and the fault is foisted upon God for being unfair in allowing some judgment to all upon another.  But the evil of this is just as bad – for we are denying our sin and guilt and asserting that we deserve nothing but God’s goodness and blessing.

 

Application:  This is the heart of impenitence – a stubborn rebellion not only against God, but also against truth, truth that in our more honest moments we recognize and realize in our hearts and minds.  How can it do us any good to live in such falsehood and lies – and to insulate ourselves from the gracious love, mercy, and forgiveness of God, His gracious blessedness that cost the Son of God, Jesus Christ, His very life? 

 

No, my friends – this lying and deceiving, self-deception and delusion, does us no good whatsoever, and as sure as God is love He will not leave us in this myopia and blindness without doing all that He can to bring us back to repentance and into His love, forgiveness, and salvation.   

 

Transition:  But sadly:

 

II.  Our Sinful Nature Is Opposed To Honest Repentance And Reliance Upon God’s Gracious Mercy And Forgiveness Even When God Applies Fertilizer In Our Lives

 

Jesus’ parable of the fig tree.  The vinedresser said:  “Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure.  Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.”

 

Statement:  Whether it is various accounts we hear of the horrible things that befall others, or various difficulties that God allows into our own lives – it is all “fertilizer” for our souls.  God is trying, hoping, lovingly attempting to move us to see the reality – to recognize our innate sin and rebellion against Him, to us turn back to Him in repentance so that we can receive His gracious forgiveness and mercy, and live in His love now and forever in His heavenly kingdom. 

 

So, what our sinful nature concludes is sure and certain evidence of God’s unfairness is in fact expression and evidence of His great healing and curing love for us, and His will that we turn from our ways and live.  The key to this is repentance.

 

Application:  So the words of Jesus apply directly and poignantly to each of us – for when things go well for us we think that this is evidence of our goodness, our superiority over others; and when things go poorly or painfully for us we conclude that God must certainly be unfair and unjust in dealing with us.  This too is part and parcel of the fallen, darkened, and distorted thinking that permeates our fallen sinful nature. 

 

Transition:  So, because this is a terrible and hopeless condition of “unreality” and darkness, God continues to call men to repentance, and so Jesus asserts that:

 

III.  Except We Repent And Cling To Christ In Faith We Will Perish, From This World And For Eternity

 

Text:  “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

 

OT:  “O house of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his ways.”

 

Statement:  It is no different in the way in which you judge.  If someone tells you the car you want to buy is worth $300,000, you don’t just pay it.  Likewise, if someone tells you he is the king of America and you must bow down to him, you don’t just get down on your knees.  You understand that reality is what it is – and that everyone, if they are at all sane, has to live and interact within reality.  If a person believes they can jump off the wall of the Grand Canyon and fly, would we not do everything we could to stop him? 

 

Why should we think it to be any different when it comes to God?  The reality of our sin and rebellion against God requires repentance.  The fact that a person thinks he can fly up to heaven on the basis of his own goodness and righteousness requires the God of love to warn him, and call him back to repentance.  This is simple reality – and God does all that He can to stop us from perishing in impenitence and unbelief.

 

Application:  So let us hear the words of Jesus, our dear Lord and Savior, Who laid down His life for us, so that through repentance and faith we might be restored to life and salvation – in the gracious love and mercy of God! 

 

Let us think very carefully about how we judge others, and how we judge God – and also of the dangers of our compulsion to self-righteousness and impenitence.  Obviously, God does not desire the death of the wicked, but that he turn from his ways and live – by His gracious forgiveness and mercy.  So also, God does not desire the death of any one of us, but that we repent of all of our sin and rebellion against Him – and that we receive His gracious forgiveness and salvation in Christ Jesus. 

 

Conclusion:  So let us also think clearly about the disasters that we hear about, the horrid things that befall other human beings, and the disasters that threaten us as well.  Let us understand all of this as the “fertilizer” that God provides in our lives, that we might also bear the fruit of repentance in lives of faith and trust in God’s love, and lives of genuine compassion and love for all others.   It is all part of His great and eternal love for us – that we receive and participate in His great and eternal redemption.

 

To do otherwise is dismal for us – and makes us very dismal people.  The end of impenitence is also dismal – and surely not God’s will for us.  God grant each of us grace to repent and live in His love, through faith in Jesus!  Amen.

 

Votum:  And the peace of God, which surpasses human understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds in the true faith, which is in Christ Jesus, even unto life everlasting, Amen.