Luke: Repent…While you still can-07/15/18

Message: Series Title

‘The Gospel of Luke: Encountering Jesus’

Message: ‘Repent… while you still can’   Text: Luke 13:1-9

Introduction:   A young man named John received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of the bird’s mouth was rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity.

John tried to change the bird’s attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to “clean up” the bird’s vocabulary.

Finally, John was fed up and yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot and the parrot got angrier and even ruder.

John, in desperation, grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer. For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed. Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute. Fearing that he’d hurt the parrot, John quickly opened the door to the freezer.

The parrot calmly stepped out onto John’s outstretched arms and said

“I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I’m sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behavior.”

John was stunned at the change in the bird’s attitude. As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behavior, the bird continued, “May I ask what the turkey did?”

That parrot repented… while he still had time.

Repent, repentance, not very popular in today’s society. They’re not popular because if we call people to repentance then they’re admitting that they’re doing something wrong and people don’t like that, not even a little bit. And that attitude has crept into the church.

ILL: On the topic of repentance, David Wilkerson wrote:

  • You can visit church after church, from stately cathedrals to small congregations, and you’ll seldom hear a word preached about repentance. The same is true of many evangelical churches across America and worldwide.
  • You can visit congregation after congregation for months on end, and never hear any mention of repentance.
  • …a vast number of churches have decided that repentance is too offensive a message.
  • In such churches, you can hear all about God’s love, His blessings, His precepts for coping with life, but not a word about godly sorrow for sin. You can hear messages on loving others and being a good, kind person.
  • All of that is indeed scriptural. But you won’t hear a repentance message like the one Peter preached at Pentecost.

And what happens at those churches?

  • Thousands of seats are filled each week by people who want to feel good about themselves when they leave.
  • And… they usually do. Because they haven’t been challenged to deal with any unconfessed sin in their lives.

Before we look into our text where we’ll find Jesus calling people to repentance and actually using the word repent, let’s briefly take a sidebar and look at what the word means.

Sidebar: What is repentance?

PP: Repentance, at it’s very center, is a change of direction:

  • It’s turning away from the world/sin and turning towards God and right living.
  • Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. (Hosea 14:1)

PP: Repentance acknowledges our sin against God:

  • David, after being confronted on his sin with Bathsheba said.
  • For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight (Psalm 51:3–4a,)

PP: Repentance brings a change in our emotions:

  • Let there be tears for the wrong things you have done. Let there be sorrow and sincere grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Then when you realize your worthlessness before the Lord, He will lift you up, encourage and help you. (James 4:9-10 TLB)

PP: Repentance brings a change in our behavior:

  • What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. (Matthew 21:28–29)

The words changed his mind is one word in the Greek metamellomai and is most often translated repented in Scripture.

PP: Blank Slide

A change in behavior. John the Baptist, speaking to the religious leaders told them to Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. (Luke 3:8)

The Apostle Paul put it a bit differently but had the same meaning:

  • That they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. (Acts 26:20)

What we choose to do, how we choose live, should change, as a result of our repentance.

OK, let’s take a look at our text and see what Jesus had to say about repentance.

  1. Luke 13:1-5 No one is exempt

PP: A. Luke 13:1-3  Worse sinners? Pt.1

  • There were some present at that very time who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And He answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

So it seems that once again, as Jesus is teaching He’s interrupted by someone asking Him a question. Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way?

The Galileans in Jesus’ day, were some pretty bad people. And those in living in Jerusalem thought themselves to be much more spiritual than the Galileans.

  • They may have wanted Jesus, in some way, acknowledge that they were correct to think that they were more spiritual than the Galileans.

It’s also possible this was an attempt by the crowd to get Jesus to be the Messiah they wanted Him to be.

  • If Jesus admitted that Pilate was wrong to kill the Galileans, perhaps they could force Him to take a military/political stand against Rome.

But, He wasn’t biting. Instead Jesus segue ways  back to what He was teaching at the end of chapter 12… repent while you still can.

Jesus’ point?

  • Tragedies, like what happened to the Galileans, show us that since death and the judgment that follows could happen at any time, we need to be ready, by repenting of our sin.

Finally notice that the question was about the Galileans and Jesus answers by making it about them.

  • No! I tell you; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.

Jesus is saying look,

  • You’re making life about what happens ‘out there.’ (about others)
  • But I tell you, life is about what happens ‘in here’ (abut you). The choices you make.
  • And the most important choice you’ll ever make is to repent of your sin before God.

Here’s one more thing…. While Jesus didn’t say the people in the crowd were as sinful as the Galileans, He certainly inferred it when He said

  • Unless you repent you will all LIKEWISE perish.

 The word perish is not just to die, it’s to be lost, to be destroyed. He was talking about judgment, about eternal death, about Hell.

 PP: B. Luke 13:4-5  Worse sinners? Pt.2

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? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. (Luke 13:4–5)

Here I think Jesus does address the crowd’s idea that because they lived in Jerusalem they were more spiritual than those who lived in Galilee.

  • I don’t think it’s His main point, but He does address it to make His main point.

In these verses Jesus shows that tragedy also happens to people living in Jerusalem. Shouldn’t the crowd then consider the residents of Jerusalem as evil and the Galileans because they suffered such a great tragedy as well?

  • That’s the first thing the people in the crowd would have understood.

But again, Jesus moves on to what’s more important… it’s not what happened to the 18 who were killed that’s the real tragedy, it’s what will happen to you (no matter where you live) if you fail to repent of your sin… you will all likewise perish. No one is exempt.

  • Two stories, one from the crowd, one from Jesus.
  • One moral of the stories… repent while there’s still time.

Now, one question associated with repentance is often asked and is relevant both to our text and to our lives… How can I know if repentance is genuine?

In Luke 3:8 we read that John the Baptist was approached by some religious leaders who wanted to be baptized for repentance of sin.

  • John knew they hadn’t truly repented, they just wanted to look good in front of the people by getting baptized.
  • They had no plan to stop sinning.

So in Luke 3:8 this is what John the Baptist tells them and we’ll see it played out in verses 6-9.

  • Bear fruits in keeping with repentance.

PP: II. Luke 13:6-9  Grace extended

And He told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘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.’

This parable by Jesus underscores His teaching on the coming judgment for their sin and the peoples need to be ready for that judgment.

And while Jesus does not say they needed to repent here, remember, that’s what He’s been clearly talking about.

  • This parable is similar to the one in Luke 12:57-59 where Jesus tells the crowd that when they know they have wronged someone, they need to make it right with them before they see the judge, because then it will be too late. They’ll be found guilty and sent to prison for life.
  • Here Jesus is saying that they are the fig trees in God’s garden and were put there to produce fruit. What kind of fruit? Righteous. (not said here but it is said in many passages in Scripture like this one.)

PP: And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through

Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9–11)

But I think the most amazing thing we see, is yet another extension of God’s grace.

  • Told to cut the tree down by the owner because it has not produced fruit,
  • the vinedresser petitions the owner of the tree and says

PP: ‘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.’

It’s as if Jesus is talking to the Father and saying

  • Father, I know they’re hard of heart. I know many will never repent. But some will.
  • Please give them one more chance, a bit more time so that all who are called to trust in You, will trust in You.
  • I’ll help them, I’ll teach them, I’ll care for them.
  • Those who do not repent, will come face to face with the final judgment,
  • but those who do repent will come face to face with Me… in heaven.

There’s a hymn we sing that speaks of God’s extravagant grace.

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?

Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin!


I like what John MacArthur had to say about the text on our screen.

What do we call it when somebody is alive who should be dead.  By all accounts, and if things were sort of normal, those people would be dead.

We call it ‘living on borrowed time’.

We use it to speak of those who should be dead

but aren’t.  And come to think of it, that’s all of us. Scripture says

  • The wages of sin is death.
  • The soul that sins shall die.

End quote

We should all be dead. We should all have experienced God’s judgment for our sin against Him… but we aren’t, we haven’t. Why? Because God is a God of extravagant grace.

But, we don’t know how long our ‘borrowed time’ will last.

  • So, let’s make today the day we repent, the day we turn from our life in the world, from our life of sin
  • and turn towards life with God through faith in Jesus.

 PP: Next Slide

Please bow your heads and close your eyes and just listen; to me and to the Holy Spirit, as God speaks to you.

First, if you’ve never truly repented of your sin against God… please, do it now, don’t wait.

  • If God is speaking to you, then you know it’s the right thing to do.
  • If God is speaking to you, it’s because He’s called you to a life with Him.
  • If God is speaking to you, admit your sin to Him. Ask for His forgiveness. Ask Him to come into your life and begin to guide and direct your steps in life.

Do it now…

 Second, if you have already repented of your sin and turned your life over to God, take a moment to see if there’s any unconfessed, unrepented sin in your life.

Ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and show you where you may have deviated from the path of honoring God with your life.

  • Then repent.
  • Acknowledge your sin to your heavenly Father.
  • Seek His forgiveness.
  • Ask for power to stay faithfully on the path that leads to life.

Do it now…

Let’s pray.