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Jesus' Call to Repentance
Gen. James Green
"There were present at that season some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, 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).
I N THESE five verses, we find two examples of Jesus' call to repentance. Jesus' remarks upon the anecdotes and stories of His day most instinctively. There were men who told Him of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices, and they thought they were giving Him some new information. He was not moved by this information (like pity!) but said, "Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things?" Then Jesus uses this piece of information to preach the Gospel: "except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (v. 3).
Jesus did not take up their time to comfort the news bearers, speaking of the greatness the men who Pilate killed, taking up an offering for their families etc., NO! He got down to what really matters—REPENT or PERISH!! He turned the occasion back upon those men.
The "likewise" does not refer to a literal vengeance or method of punishment, but it refers to the inevitable, unchangeable gracious law, that whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Have we forgotten this principle dear readers?
Did these men expect Jesus to go and rebuke Pilate, or even run him out of Judea? Jesus took this "news" one step further; He told them about "those 18, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them." Again, taking the opportunity to preach the Gospel: "except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (v. 5).
Where else have we heard this word? Oh, yes, Jn. 3:16, that most famous "love" verse that everybody loves to push on us. Verse 16, dear ones, has two very important subjects in it, namely, PERISH, and EVERLASTING LIFE. This one love verse reveals the purpose and heart of our God: His love is BIG enough to embrace ALL (lost) persons, i.e., "the world" (see 1 Tim. 2:4); He "gave" His beloved Son as an offering for sin/the sinner on the old rugged Cross. The atonement proceeds from the loving heart of God. It was not something forced upon Him (see Rom. 8:32 and 1 Jn. 4:10); to "believe" (Gk. pisteuo; Strong’s #G4100) includes three elements: 1—a sure conviction that Christ Jesus is the Son of God and the ONLY Savior for lost humanity; 2—a self-surrendering fellowship (through confession/repentance) with and obedience to Christ (see Jn. 15:1-10); 3—a fully assured trust in Christ that He is both able and willing to bring you to final salvation (work out/walk out our salvation in obedience till the end).
Now, we don't hear much about this word "perish," in the same verse; it is too often forgotten or ignored. It points to that DREADFUL reality of eternal punishment (write for our Hell series). "Perish" never means annihilation, but "SEPARATION" from God eternally.
"Eternal life" is the (free) gift God bestows on the repentant sinner, bringing him/her out of darkness/spiritual death, into light/spiritual life. We call this regeneration (salvation/born again etc.). The word "eternal" not only expresses PERPETUITY, but also the QUALITY of life, that is a Divine type of life, a life that frees us from the power of sin/Satan/and places spiritual power within us to walk out our salvation.
Regeneration only happens to those who truly REPENT and TURN to Christ—a re-creating and transformation of the repentant sinner. Church membership NEVER, EVER saves us. We MUST TURN from sin to Christ by placing our personal faith in Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord (Jn. 1:12). I've already written on this subject, so let us proceed with Luke 13.
The reason for Pilate's murder of the Galileans is not known to us, but here is the suggestion: he ordered the Galileans slain perhaps because he suspected them of being insurrectionists. Josephus does not mention this particular event in his writings. However, he does mention Archelaus sending in soldiers into the temple, slaying 3,000 men while they were employed in offering sacrifices (Jos., War, b, ii. c.1, 5.3 and ii. c. 5). Some suppose that this event refers to the followers of Judas Gaulonites (see Acts 5:37; see also Jos. Antiq. lib. 18).
Whatever the truth is, the bigger truth is that JESUS WAS NOT MOVED BY THIS NEWS, and Pilate was recalled to Rome in A.D. 36 over this event (it is said). Jesus used this event to present what was of greater importance—the Gospel. Twice He mentioned the word "perish."
We may ask ourselves, "Were Jesus' informants enemies who were hoping He might make some seditious/anti-Roman utterance?" or, "Were these Jewish patriots (zealots) who hoped Jesus would be mad enough to take action to revolution…leading a long awaited revolt against Rome?" or "Were they simply purveyors of bad news?" Whatever, He was not moved either in compassion for the slain, their families, nor moved in hatred for Rome. He simply used this occasion to call these men to REPENTANCE!!
Jesus had already emphasized the fact that His Kingdom was NOT of this world. His greater mission was to FREE the Jews (and Gentiles) from spiritual bondage. His mission was to prepare people for the hereafter—for eternal life—IF the people would believe.
Jesus waved aside the political and presented the spiritual: "except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Strong’s #G622; Gk. apollumi="to be lost eternally").
Jesus' mission was to awaken the Jewish nation to their mandate: to make God known to the world. The reason for the Roman occupation was because Israel had failed in this mission, went a whoring after other gods, and became "religious" and not "righteous." Now, Jesus was to present the Jews with the same vision, but also with new power—Holy Ghost Power!—to perform their calling. Should Israel again prove recreant, the day of opportunity for the "chosen" would turn against them. And it did.
We know the history all too well—they rebelled against God/Christ; GOD/CHRIST REBELLED AGAINST THEM. This truth ought to awaken the sleeping American church.
When Jesus stated twice that "except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish," He was predicting the future of Jerusalem. This prediction was literally fulfilled in 70 AD…rivers of blood flowed, and tons and tons of rocks/walls etc. fell upon the Jews (see Jos. War, b. vi. Ch. iv., v., vi; also see Matt. 24).
Worse is that (probably) most died in their sins—PERISHING both physically and spiritually. Sad! Is this what we want to happen to America? His severe judgment? I don't! Let us REPENT, REPENT, REPENT. Let us not tempt God to anger. Pray for this nation that it will turn back to God and LIVE.