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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Lent 3C Luke 13:1-9

Luke 13:1-9
Isaiah 55:1-13

Am I being punished for my sins? At some time or the other we all ask this question. When tragedy strikes: we search high and low for a REASON.
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Someone tells Jesus, Pilate, the Roman governor, murdered some people from Galilee while they were sacrificing in the Temple. The question, “Were they worse sinners than we are? Is that why they were killed?”

If only Jesus had answered, “Yes.” We would be happy to know that, “To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Life would be neat and clean. Only bad people would reap bad consequences. The good would get good, the bad would get bad.

Jesus did not answer yes.

Instead he says, “not at all. Unless you repent you’ll all perish.” Sounds heartless and cruel. You’re all going to end up like them if you don’t get your act straight.

He goes on to site another tragedy “18 men died in the tragedy of Siloam by a tower falling on them. Unless you repent you’ll end up just like them.”


“Tragedies occur, whether intentionally by oppressive governors such as Pilate or accidentally by imperfections in the kind of world we live in. In neither case must one conclude that tragedies are necessarily an indication of divine judgment against sinners. Rather, in view of the uncertainty of life and the unpredictability of the future one must be warned to examine one’s own life and repent.” (Jirair Tashjian

We don’t have reasons for most tragedies. We would like to say, “those sinners in ________ pay for it by their earthquakes, mudslides, and floods.” We like to pat ourselves on the back and say they are worse sinners than we are, therefore those things don’t happen to us. We read the Bible. We go to church. Then terrible twisters tear up our state we wonder if our sins will wipe us out too.

Many times when we hear of or even experience tragedy we examine our own lives and say, “What if that were to happen to me? Would I be ready to die?” This is the right way to respond! That is what Jesus is saying, “Yes, yes, bad things do happen. We don’t know why. But when they happen let’s see if there is anything in our lives that needs changing.”

When we hear of a child dying because she found a gun in her father’s drawer, we all go home and check the safeties on our guns and buy gun cabinets with locks.
When we hear of a child overdosing on Tylenol from the medicine cabinet we go home and lock ours up even tighter.
When we hear of a dog getting rabies and biting someone we make vet appointments and take our animals in for shots.

Often it takes a tragedy to wake us up, to make us live responsibly, to examine our inner selves.
When we hear of someone dying we wonder, “When will it be my turn?” Until we face a death of someone our own age we think death is all for someone else.

What does a fig tree have to do with a tragedy?
Will the fig tree produce fruit next year? God longs for it to happen.

In other words, let’s give them one more chance. Jesus tells us its time to repent. Repent means to open your eyes, realize you’re heading the wrong way, and turn around and go the other way. If you turn on the wrong side of the exit ramp heading to the interstate you open your eyes right away to the problem and get out of there! You see the consequences in front of you in the form of an oncoming tractor trailer rig that make you into roadkill. It doesn’t take long to turn around when you’re scared.

Repentance means you open your eyes to the consequences of your behavior, and you turn around as fast you as you can to get away from it.

In the first part of the passage Jesus judges, “REPENT OR YOU WILL PERISH.”In the second part, “GIVE THEM ONE MORE CHANCE”two sides of the same God Judgment and grace

Oh how he longs for you to bear fruit

"Is anyone thirsty come and drink even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk—it’s all free! Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen and I will tell you where to get food that is good for the soul!" Isaiah 55:1-2 NRSV

Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near Let the people run from their wicked deeds. Let them banish form their minds the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Come and eat at God’s table.
And when you do the the trees of the field will clap their hands because God’s salvation has broken into the history in the person of Jesus Christ.

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