Todays readings … 1 Chronicles 4, Ezekiel 17, Luke 13, 14
“IF YOU FAIL TO REPENT …”
Sin is not a word people use these days. People, who do wrong, try hard to avoid any punishment. Some employ expensive lawyers to defend them. In the days of Jesus, people more widely believed that God was the ultimate cause of punishment for their sins. Our reading in Ezekiel shows this, making the point that God had been merciful toward his people. Yet there comes a point when God acts because he sees that people are fixed in their unheeding ways, despite the fact that he keeps showing mercy. In the end God brought total destruction on Jerusalem because of the abundance of their sins and lack of repentance.
Now Jesus makes a very interesting point in Luke 13, evidently people had been saying that when a tower collapsed in Siloam and killed 18 people (v.4), those people must have been worse sinners than other people. How did Jesus respond? “No” he says, “I tell you they were not, and if you fail to repent you will all likewise perish.”
If we are not on God’s side, trying to do his will, there is no future for us. Jesus followed up his warning by telling them a parable about a man who planted a tree (v.6-9) and who came for 3 years, looking for fruit, but found none. It was given one more year to produce fruit and a special effort was made to fertilise it. If it did not produce fruit it would be destroyed.
Jesus came to the lost sheep of Israel, being the one God sent to make a special effort to fertilize the tree. Most would not follow him; those who did were largely the common people who heard him gladly. Forty years later there was terrible destruction. Wonderfully, in the plan and purpose of God, there is a future for his ‘chosen people’ in these last days.
And for us? If we have chosen “to repent” and so to follow him – it is essential we each ask ourselves, am I producing fruit?