8 Jan 2006

Except Ye Repent...

Submitted by theshovel
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...except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Luke 13:3

Has this snippet from the mouth of Jesus ever been used to scare you into a futile struggle against sin in the hopes of avoiding the judgment of God, either now or in the hereafter? What if you were to realize his words have been turned around right before your eyes so that they seem to validate something totally contrary to what he actually said? I can tell you that it wouldn't be the first time.

I know it might easily appear as if Jesus was warning about impending tragedies that could fall upon the "unrepentant", and yet it was this very supposition that Jesus was exposing. Do you hear what I'm saying? Jesus had confronted those who held false perceptions by which they judged disaster victims according to what seemed obvious to themselves. Take another look at the account that surrounds this famous bit of verse (by the way, I quote from the KJV because I think most who have heard this preached are familiar with this wording).

There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Luke 13:1-5 KJV

Do you think this happened to those people because they were somehow worse than others? Yes, that's exactly what they thought! That's why he posed the question, not once, but twice. For in referring to a second, less recent, tragedy he would have stirred remembrances of their own struggles as to why such a thing would happen to a select few. It's not that I imagine them openly expressing this--though a few may have--for I suspect that for most the supposition was hidden somewhere below their sorrow and confusion. So it is today.

I tell you, Nay: but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Luke 13:3

Twice Jesus challenged the commonly held assumption that tragedy victims suffer because they have done something particularly bad. So, why would Jesus then make a statement to perpetuate the same fallacy he had exposed? Perhaps we have read something else into his words.

Some suggest that the answer is found by inserting the correct meaning of the word repent, and it does ... partially. The fact is that the Greek word for repent (metanoia) does not mean "turn from sin", but refers to a change in perception or a change of mind. I say "partially" because even with the correct interpretation of "repent" Jesus' statement still does not establish just another view on what one must do to keep from perishing.

So, what am I saying? I am telling you that this change of mind is not just a clarification of a partial statement but is totally integrated into the whole of Jesus' encounter with the people.

As a statement separated from its context, it has been misused to project the very fallacy Jesus confronted. Some actually use this verse as their proof-text that Jesus taught...

that tragedies are sent as a judgement upon the unrepentant and that the threat of disaster still exists

(you can find that quote online if you so desire). Others preach that to "likewise perish" is Jesus' threat of spending an eternity in hell, unless you do something about it. But this snippet does not stand by itself.

One of the more important considerations is found in what Jesus implied by "likewise perish", for without a change of mind this is what would come upon them all. Hold on, don't lose me here. Realize that even though Jesus exposed this fallacy it exists as if it were true for those who perceive it as true. To "likewise perish" means that their own deaths would be subjected to the same kind of evaluation. It continues today, for even the most noble have their lives examined and reexamined by generations for secret faults that led to their downfall. Someone will eventually establish a valid reason why you deserved the judgment of God.

I tell you, Nay: but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Luke 13:3

One who does not "repent" persists in evaluating all things as before. Let me rephrase this statement accordingly. "I tell you it is not true that these people suffered such things because they were worse sinners than any other, but I also tell you that as long as you persist in seeing it this way, your deaths will be viewed in the same way." In view of the whole account, what else would this change of mind relate to other than the whole delusion created by their judgments regarding disasters?

You think I'm forcing an "un-Biblical" or out-of-context interpretation upon this verse? Consider the follow-up parable and judge for yourselves whether it makes any connective sense viewed in the tradition manner.

He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down. Luke 13:6-9 KJV

There is only one reason Jesus would have followed up with this story, and that is that it supports what he said about their false perceptions regarding those who suffer disasters. There are two men, two perceptions in this parable. One owns the vineyard and has judged a fig tree planted in it to be worthless based upon a lack of fruit; the other tends to the vineyard and knows that such expectations are faulty and will continue to water and fertilize it. That Jesus made his story revolve around a fig tree in a vineyard seems to reinforce his consistent references to the inclusion of those who don't belong.

A question: How many times do you think this encounter between the vineyard owner and the gardener had taken place? It should be obvious that this was the third time because the owner states, "Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?" It should also be obvious that the gardener put off the owners request by making the same response each year. My point is that "next year" he will say the very same thing if the tree still has no figs. To the one man, the tree is worthless as long it there is no fruit; to the other, the only worthless thing is the faulty judgment of the tree.

My friends, what are your judgments based upon? How often have you and I speculated as to who deserves what in this world ... or in the world to come? If they are based upon what you can see, you yourself will be subjected to that same judgment ... both by yourself and by the world around you. Unless of course you have another mind.

To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. Titus 1:15 NASB

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Comments

Excellent! See Jim, I agree with you on more things than you think :) The article on the Rich Man and Lazarus was excellent as well. - Danny
theshovel's picture

Hello Danny,

Thanks for your comment. :) Hopefully, I can get to the other comments soon. I'll post them when I do. You know, if you register and then are logged in when you write, these comments get posted immediately. However, I have to leave for work right now.

Jim

theshovel's picture

These comments were all transferred over from the original website

Posted: Jan-08-06 by Bruce

Oh...I can't stand it any longer.

You continue to preach that fasle gospel of grace where there is no room for eternal torment!
Do you really think that GOD really loves sinners that much? It seems all you want to write about is LOVE and GRACE and MERCY and FORGIVENESS! Don't you FEAR GOD anymore???

Keep up the GOOD WORK of the GOOD NEWS!

Let the naysayers have their "eternal torment" and "weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth"...until it burns up everything but the CHRIST in them!

HA!

:)
Bruce


Posted: Jan-08-06 by Rod

Jim,

Great job as usual. I like to think repenting means to "turn from your sin" as you stated. In other words you would turn from the law and your own righteousness. Sin, law, and death always seem to be related.

Thanks for all you do!

Rod


Posted: Jan-08-06 by Natalie

Well, the shoveletter is always worth waiting for. What a timely topic. And I agree with you. I am soooo tired of people pointing fingers. We were doing reports for the Women's Christian Temperance Union and a 7th grade boy said, "Can I put in my paper how God destroyed Louisiana because they drink more than us?" sigh....I had to try to debrief him... Anyway...thanks. I love you. Natalie


Posted: Jan-08-06 by guest

Jim,

Wonderful!


Posted: Jan-09-06 by Tim

Hi Jim. It's been a long time. Since your latest letter appeared in my mailbox I read it and wanted to let you know I appreciated it. Reminds me of how Jesus said that in the measure we judge others we too will be judged.

Tim in Moscow


Posted: Jan-11-06 by Nannette

Hey Jim,

It sure is good to hear from you. I have to be honest, your explanation did not put my worries to rest. But, I was glad to be reminded that repent is a change of mind. That helps a lot.

Love, Nannette


Posted: Jan-14-06 by Neil

Interesting enlightenment on the words of Jesus. The way most people interpret him, it's like on the one hand he's totally non-judgemental...unless on the other hand it's some specific instance of this kind or that. Then he's totally judgemental. Which, if true, would just make Jesus...mental. And unfit to judge anyone. Huh. What kind of a son o' God is that? Capricious. All mixed up. Or schizo.

As usual, Jesus goes right to the heart -- the truth of where we really stand with God, with others and with ourselves. As Mr. Armstrong has said on occasion, you'd better make friends with the truth or it will be your worst enemy and expose you every time.

Later,
Neil


Posted: Feb-13-06 by Wes

Jim,
I finally read this shoveletter. It reminds me of the sermons after 9-11, about how our nation's sinfulness led to the tragedies of that day. What bullsh*t! Thanks for putting out the good stuff... WES

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