When you hear these words you immediately think of those crazies wearing sandwich boards, holding megaphones, obnoxiously yelling at all passing by in a condemning hateful way. But we must be mindful that this was part of the message of Jesus Christ. Though He was not obnoxious or hateful, He certainly did warn His listeners of a coming judgment, the consequences of their sin, and called upon His audience to repent and turn to God.
… And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God.” (Luke 13:3b, NLT)
In today’s study, we will examine what it means to repent and why Jesus emphasized it so much. Notice in the verse above that biblical repentance is turning from sins and turning to God. And also notice in today’s text how Jesus always seeks to turn people from looking at the sins of others to looking at their own sins and their consequences.
About this time Jesus was informed that Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were offering sacrifices at the Temple. “Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?” Jesus asked. “Is that why they suffered? Not at all! And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God. And what about the eighteen people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them? Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem? No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too.” Then Jesus told this story: “A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed. Finally, he said to his gardener, ‘I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s just taking up space in the garden.’ “The gardener answered, ‘Sir, give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. If we get figs next year, fine. If not, then you can cut it down.”” (Luke 13:1–9, NLT)
Notice above how Jesus ended His illustration with a parable about a fruitless fig tree. The fig tree was three years barren and was given one more year for one last chance to bear fruit. This a picture of God’s patience waiting for those who hear the Gospel to bear fruit. This parable leaves us hanging. What will be the outcome? Will the fig tree bear fruit or be cut down? This leaves us with the nagging questions, what will I do? Will I hear and obey the Gospel to the point of bearing fruit?
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” … “I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” (John 15:1–2:5–6, NKJV)
Remember, it’s all about Jesus, believing in Him, abiding in Him, and bearing fruit unto Him for the Glory of God.