A chance to repent – Luke 13:1-5

When extreme tragedy strikes, there is an almost universal tendency to see that the person somehow had it coming to them.  Call it karma, call it something else, the tendency has always been there.  The Bible has a version of this, memorably expressed by Paul in Galatians 6:7-8.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

At the same time, the Bible sees this principle as limited, at least in this life.  The story of Job is an excellent example.  A perfectly righteous man endures terrible hardship, while his friends try to make sense of it as best they can.  Perhaps inevitably, they resort to blaming Job for his own troubles.  They were wrong, but they add much insult to Job’s injury before they are forced to see it.  God sets all things right at the very end, but it took Job a long time and a lot of undeserved suffering to get there.

Jesus encountered this kind of thinking one day and answered it perfectly as always.  Let’s read it from Luke 13.

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. 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.”

The Galileans killed by Pilate and the victims of the fallen tower were no worse people than anyone else.  The twist in Christ’s version is not that they were especially innocent in God’s eyes, but that everyone else is comparably guilty.  This is the biblical view of sin.  It is the bad news that makes the good news of the gospel good.

We are all in need of repentance.  That is one of the earliest lessons that the Bible aims to teach us.  At some level, we are guilty before a perfectly holy God.  Sure, there may be mitigating factors to the particular level of our guilt.  A certain temptation was especially difficult.  Under the circumstances there were no good choices.  We have a natural tendency to do this or that.  Someone or something drove us to a point where we reacted, which was wrong.  But, in the end, we are wrong too.  We have sinned because we are fundamentally flawed members of a flawed race who eventually lived up – or maybe down – to our potential.  We sinned and fell short of perfect holiness, which is the standard of the one and only thoroughly holy God.

The solution is repentance.  We are not to hold onto our sin and cherish it.  We are to turn from it and turn our hearts toward our divinely provided Savior.  This is the point made by Jesus when he says, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

John 3:16 steers us directly to this principle.  We have a chance to repent right now.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Don’t demand a sign – Mark 8:11-13

As was often the case, Jesus found himself in another argument with some Pharisees.

11 The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” 13 And he left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side.

The interesting thing is that Jesus did in fact give a number of signs pointing to his being the Messiah.  The Gospel of John is perhaps the clearest on this point.

The first was his changing the water into wine, after which John 2:11 says, “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.”

After healing an official’s son, John 4:54 informs us, “This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.”  Later we read, “Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him,” in John 12:37.

And of course, near the end of his Gospel (John 20:30-31) John writes, Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

The best way to understand Christ’s point in refusing the Pharisees the sign that they seek may simply be that he’ll be the one to decide what sign(s) he is willing to perform.  Their job and ours is merely to accept the signs that he gives. His ultimate sign was his resurrection, but of course they didn’t accept that one either.  We must do so if we are truly to be his followers.

When we deal with God, we need to maintain a healthy attitude of submission.  Making demands on him reverses the relationship.  He may do what we ask if he so chooses, but he is not obligated.  On the other hand we need to always be at his service.  If he makes a demand on us, it is only right.  The only right response is to do what he says.  This becomes easier the more we accept the fact that he knows and wants what is best for us and teaches us through this process.

Resurrection Sunday 2019

Nabeel Qureshi 1983-2017

Nabeel Qureshi 1983 – 2017

Jesus’ death on the cross is not the end of the Christian message. The gospel is that Jesus then rose from the dead. Whereas every other life ended in death, Jesus’ death ended in life, and his resurrection is the basis of all Christian confidence.

Resurrection 2019.pdf

Resurrection 2019.mp3

Central Streaming: Jesus in Prayer

gospel-of-john

  • It is the night before Jesus is crucified.  Christ is fulfilling the role of a high priest by interceding for his followers – both in prayer and by then going to the cross.  He prays for both the disciples that were with him and future disciples like us.

John 17.pdf

John 17.mp3

 

 

 

Central Streaming: Born Again

gospel-of-johnIn one of the Bible’s most important chapters, Jesus explains to a respected religious leader that the basic need of all people is to be born again.

John 3.pdf

John 3.mp3

 

 

 

Central Streaming: Incarnation

gospel-of-johnIn the Prologue to his Gospel, John highlights both the deity and humanity of Christ.  In so doing, he also reveals the source of the church’s impulse toward mission.

John 1.1-18.pdf       

John 1.1-18.mp3

The Athanasian Creed.pdf