Going Deeper 3/22/2019

The Gospel reading for Lent 3...
Luke 13:1-9   At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.  He asked them, "Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans?  No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did.  Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem?  No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did."  Then he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none.  So he said to the gardener, "See here!  For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?'  He replied, "Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it.  If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'"

It isn't hard to see why this text was selected to be part of the readings for the season of Lent...  "unless you repent, you will all perish."  It is clear that repentance is mandatory.  But what does it mean to repent?

Many have come to believe that repentance means feeling sorry for sin.  And that is a part.  It is a start.  But it is not the whole thing.  Experiencing guilt, remorse, and sorrow demonstrates our realization of our brokenness, which is necessary for us to experience and truly appreciate grace.  That said, it is vital to understand that this is to initiate change.

To "repent" literally means to turn away, to change direction.  We are to seek transformation, and not grow comfortable with our sin.  This is expressed clearly in what Paul wrote in Romans 12, "in view of God’s mercy, offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."  True repentance changes the direction of our lives.

However, this is never perfect.  It is a battle.  We have here yet another paradox: we both can and can not overcome all sin in our lives.  If we were to rely fully on the Holy Spirit and fully dedicate ourselves to the transformation, we can experience healing and put sin behind us.  But in our fallen nature, we are not able to always and fully rely on God and dedicate ourselves, so the battle will continue and repentance will be ongoing.

In closing, two vital points: 1) We need to keep battling and moving forward; and 2) the most powerful change agent is love, not fear.  We are transformed as we experience more and more fully and profoundly the love, mercy, and grace of God.  So keep on repenting!!

Mark Gabbert, Pastor
Zion Lutheran Church
Wellington, Colorado

"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."