But unless you repent, you too will all perish – This is a warning that Jesus gives his audience while teaching them about some of the main issues related to spiritual life. During the time of Christ, Jerusalem was an infamous city in which all kinds of wickedness were practised.
The Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law moved around in flowing robes teaching the people about the Commandments of God. But, they, themselves did not practice what they taught.
They appeared to be righteous and holy before the public while living in neck-deep sin. Even the people that they taught had the same attitude. They thought as long as they offer the right sacrifices and practice the required rituals, they are going to be righteous before God Almighty.
But in Jesus’ eyes they were sinners who were ready for God’s judgment. However, these people always were of the view that those who suffered and died due to natural calamities or disasters were the ones under God’s judgement and they perished because of their unrighteous life.
This self-righteous thinking of the Pharisees and the crowd is not something that is very peculiar to Jesus’ time. This attitude is prevalent even among contemporary born-again believers.
There are many Christians in the midst of us who consider themselves as super-righteous and they think that all the blessings they have in their lives is the reward for their super-righteous life.
Not only that, these self-righteous Christians, like the above-mentioned Pharisees and the crowd, often judge their fellow-believers too; especially, the ones that are going through hardships in their spiritual journey. These saints-like Christians often think those unfortunate fellow-believers are under judgement for their wrong doings.
When we read the above verses, it becomes clear to us that those who claimed to be super-righteous are not that holy in Christ’s eyes. See what was His response to those people.
1Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way?
3I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Luke 13, 1 – 5)
In the above verses we see a group of people gathered around Jesus who considered themselves as more righteous than others. While listening to Jesus they brought up the topic of those Galileans whose blood Pilate mixed with their sacrifices.
Of course, this was a very tragic event for those Galileans; but the sadder part is that- the people in Jerusalem considered this as a punishment for them; they had to experience this tragedy because of their sinful life.
However, these self-righteous people could not hide their hypocrisy before Christ; they did not know that someone who knows them inside-out was standing before them.
Their comments about the Galileans compelled Jesus to remind them of their own sinful lifestyle and warned them that – what they deserve is nothing but the same degree of punishment and they need to repent before it is too late.
In order to add emphasis to what Jesus was saying; He added another story; that is – the story of eighteen people who died because the tower of Siloam fell on them.
While commenting on these two incidents Jesus reminded the crowd that the people who are living in Jerusalem are not better than those victims whose lives ended so tragically. He also warned the crowd that they are as sinful as those victims and the reason that they are still alive and well was – because of LORD’s mercy.
They are surviving because the LORD Almighty has given them more time to repent and turn away from their sins; but the window of God’s Grace may not be kept opened indefinitely. If they do not repent, they too might perish like those victims.
3I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Luke 13, 3 – 5)
Saints, I am discussing a very serious issue in this article; please think about what I am saying. We, born-again believers, are not different from those self-righteous people in the crowd who brought the topic of Galileans before Christ. We too, like those hypocrites think that we are blessed because we are righteous; we are not punished like many others because we live a holy and sinless life before God Almighty.
As you know we are living in perilous times; tragedies are everywhere and many are perishing even without any warning. We hear about wars and rumors of wars. Natural disasters and man-made disasters are more common than ever before and many are perishing as a result of these calamities.
However, sometimes we, Christians, do make conclusions about these disasters in a very uncompassionate manner. Many of us are very judgmental and quick to conclude that sin might have been the reason why those people perished from those calamities.
Yes, you might be right in saying that sin is the root cause of these issues; however, many of you are making these conclusions with a self-righteous spirit.
Many of these self-righteous Christians think they haven’t become the victims of those calamities because they live a righteous life. But the fact of the matter is – We all, including Christians, are equally fallen and we all have enough sins in our lives that deserve very severe punishments.
“There is no one righteous, not even one; 11there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. 12All have turned away; they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Romans 3, 11-12)
However, it is the mercy of God Almighty that is sustaining us and not our righteousness. So, we, believers in Christ, need to come out of this pharisaical, hypocritical mentality.
Despite having a basketful of grievous sins in our lives the reason why we are not punished is – because God wants us to repent and turn away from our sins. He is giving us more time to do so. However, many of the born-again believers do not understand this truth.
They think professing faith in Christ has exempted them from living a sin-free life; but it is not true. God has shown you grace in order to lead you away from sin and you should repent and turn away from your sinful lifestyle before it is too late.
In order to drive home this point, Jesus tells a parable of a fig tree that was planted and taken care of by the gardener. Please read the full story below.
6Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. 7So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’
As you see above – the owner of the garden is expecting the fig tree to bear fruits but despite already taking care of it for a few years the tree has not provided any fruits. The owner seems already impatient and wants the gardener to cut it down. However, the gardener is a bit more patient and requests the owner to let it be there for another year.
Saints, here this fig tree represents us, believers in Christ, God has planted us in His garden expecting good fruits. But majority are not bearing any fruits for His kingdom. Instead, some are even bearing bad fruits.
1I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard
on a fertile hillside. 2He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit. (Isaiah 5, 1-2)
Actually, many of us deserve to be cut down and thrown into the fire; but we still survive in the garden because someone is requesting to God Almighty to be patient with us.
Saints, Lord Jesus is interceding to His Heavenly Father on behalf of us. That is the reason why we still survive; it is His grace alone that sustains us and not our righteousness.
But please remember, there is a limit for God’s patience too; if we do not repent and turn away from our sins; definitely, one day we will be cut and thrown into the fire.
1“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes a so that it will be even more fruitful. (John 15, 1-2)
5“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. (John 15, 5-6)