Luke 13:1-9 Journey to the Resurrection: Repent or Perish

Luke 13:1-9

Journey to the Resurrection: Repent or Perish


Remember Luke’s Purpose 

Luke 1:1-4

The Life of Repentance 

Luke 12

Chapter 12-13:9 are one setting, one teaching, the same crowd.

Luke 13:1 reminds us that the crowd asking Jesus about some tragedies (Pilate mixing the blood of some poor Galileans with their sacrifices and the Siloam tower falling on and killing some) have been listening to him teach everything in chapter 12.

So, chapter 13:1-9 is not isolated from chapter 12. In fact chapter 12 feeds what Jesus, knowing all things, is about to address in chapter 13:1-9.

Before we get to the conclusion of this teaching, which 13:1-9 is, let’s see the beginning of Jesus’ teaching and what he has to say.

I would argue Jesus, knowing what is coming in the crowd’s questions, shows them what a life of repentance looks like so that he can point them to what he just said as the point of reference.

10 Characteristics of a person who follows Jesus, according to Jesus:

1. Awareness of false teaching (leaven = teaching) 12:1-3

2. Bravery in the face of the gospel’s enemies 12:4-7

3. Public delight in Jesus 12:8-12

4. Being rich toward God 12:13-21

5. Trusts in God absolutely 12:22-34

6. Ready for the King to return at any time 12:35-41

7. A faithful and wise manager of Jesus’ resources 12:42-48

8. At peace with God and at odds with the world 12:49-53

9. Able to discern the times 12:54-56

10. Settles the account of the soul with God before they perish 12:57-59

The leaders and the people have believed lies dressed up as truths

Luke 13:1-5

You read and hear me say things like “values of the world dressed up in a Christian t-shirt.”

That language is my way of saying what Jesus said in Matthew 15:1-9 when Jesus quotes Isaiah 29:13 in condemning the fact that they had made doctrines out of the teachings of men.

The ruling parties had taken the command to honor father and mother and voided it by creating a law that said children could take what they should use to assist their parents and give it as a gift to God, they called it “corban”. That sound spiritual. Heck it’s even quite noble to give offerings to God, but when we nullify God’s word for the sake of spiritual and noble sounding other things we are actually in rebellion. Thus the values of the world dressed up in a Christian t-shirt.

This has been the way of the curse ever since the Garden. 

“I can be like God knowing good and evil.” If you say this with the right tone is sounds sweet and innocent and like a sincere worshipper. It’s just the Serpent’s thinking. It’s rebellion.

Idolatry couched in “God” language. World values dressed up in Christian t-shirts. Lies dressed up like truths.

Jesus is confronting one such lie, value of the world system dressed up in the Christian t-shirt of the day, dressed up like a truth in Luke 12-13:1-9.

The Lie: Never mind what it looks like to follow you (notice that the people don’t ask anything regarding what really matters re: what Jesus just taught them), Jesus, tell us about how sinful these poor redneck Galilean souls were who just got jacked up by Pilate or how sinful those employees of Herod were that the tower of Siloam fell on. Tell us the dirt on their personal sins. 

In other words, hardship, death, destruction, suffering and physical disabilities are the result of personal sin and God’s way of punishing the guilty party. This was a theological error long entrenched in the culture (See John 9; Job’s friend’s counsel; Luke 13:1-9). Good dirt. Enquiring minds want to know, right?

1. Remember Colossians 2:8 and the source of human traditions that get dressed up like truths!

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”

2. Remember, demons are good teachers!  1 Timothy 4:1-2

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared.”

3. Lies dressed up like truths are designed to distract from the point.

The point Jesus is making, clear from Luke 12, is what his followers look like.

The Satanic distraction is the wondering if those tragically killed were getting what they deserved, and wondering exactly how worse the victim’s sin was than their own.

4. The people had believed a lie dressed in theological language and had believed hard things were a sign of God’s punishment.

Jesus addresses their thinking:

“…do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way?” 13:2

“…do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?” 13:4

5. The fact is that hard things were/are reminders and grace to the living that all are going to die, either “tragically” or naturally and, the point is, they must repent or suffer eternal punishment.

“No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

This is the point of the seemingly out of place instruction about settling with your accuser on the way to court (12:57-59).

It’s allegorical, parable to illustrate the point that unless one repents, they will perish.

The people were so focused on the tragic nature of the victim’s deaths and the supposed sin that brought it about so as to not focus on the eternal location of the victims after death. 

Jesus emphasizes the eternal location of the living and their opportunity to repent and affect their eternal location after death and the necessity and opportunity for the living to evaluate their status!

The Real Issue: Repent, Be a Follower of Jesus

Luke 13:6-9

This is the “Big Idea” of the text.

Repentance (metanoeo: meta – in the midst / together with: noeo – understand / discern / perceive with thought: in the midst to understand, thus to change course, to turn)

To repent and have faith is to have the Spirit awaken one to life by giving them faith (Ephesians 2:1-9) and to then act on that new faith by turning from the rebellion and the lies of the rebellion and world system and following Jesus in the manner he taught them in Luke 12. Repentance looks like Luke 12!

So that there would be no confusion about what Jesus just taught, he told an agricultural parable to make the point (13:6-9).

There are two ways to understand Jesus’ instruction in 13:1-9.

1. Repentance of the Christian as killing the leftover sinful nature

Romans 8:13 “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

Repentance is not a one and done. Repentance is the constant attitude and action of the transformed / transforming follower of Jesus.

2. Repentance of the unbelieving rebel leading to salvation by grace through repentance and faith in Jesus thus making a life of continual repentance possible

Both are in play.

Repentance and faith is how we get into the kingdom. (bad subject verb agreement on purpose)

Repentance and faith is the fruit of having been born new / reborn / born again (John 3:1-15, v. 5 referencing Ezek. 36:25-27) into the kingdom.

Let’s let John Bunyan preach verse 6-9 as taken from Kent Hughes’ work on “Luke”. By the way, Bunyan preaches to both the repentance of the Christian as the fruit of salvation and the unbelieving rebel who Jesus will seek out to save because the Father has given the sinner to him. 

“And he told this parable:“A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground? ’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.”

The great puritan John Bunyan…saw the caretaker’s promise to ‘dig around it’ (the fig tree) indicated that its root structure was perhaps earthbound. Bunyan addressed the tree in one of his sermons: ‘Barren fig tree! See how the Lord Jesus, by these very words, suggesteth the cause of thy fruitless soul. The things of this world lie too close to thy heart; the death with its things has bound up thy roots; thou art an earth-bound soul.’ Then Bunyan has Jesus, the Vinedresser, address the owner – the Father: ‘Lord, I will loosen his roots; I will dig up this earth, I will lay his roots bare. My hand shall be upon him by sickness, by disappointments, by cross providences. I will dig about him until he stands shaking and tottering, until he be ready to fall. Thus, I say, deals the Lord Jesus oftentimes with the barren professor; He diggeth about him, he smitteth one blow at his heart, another blow at his lusts, a third at his pleasures, a fourth at his comforts, another at his self-conceitedness; thus he diggeth about him. This is the way to take bad earth from the roots, and to loosen his roots from the earth. Barren fig tree! See here the care, the love, the labor, and way, which the Lord Jesus, the Dresser of the vineyard, is fair to take with thee, if haply thou mayest be made fruitful.”

One must repent. But the judgment of God is not seen in the tragic or natural death of people. All dying is a gracious reminder that the living have one more opportunity to settle with the Father on the way to the judgment lest we be thrown into prison and will not get out until the last penny is paid. By the way, that is an irreparable situation. One is locked up. They can’t earn. They can’t pay. 

No, if we are alive and shaken by life, it’s the gracious work of the Vinedresser to shake us free of the curse lest we be eternal victims of the fall. 


1. I trust that the Holy Spirit will address you as to salvation or producing the fruit of salvation.

2. We will take the Lord’s Supper together in a moment.

3. If you have trusted Jesus and repented of the rebellion and daily repentance is your desire` and effort then come to the table, take the elements, return and we’ll eat and drink together in a moment.

4. If you have trusted Jesus and repented and repentance for sin is needed as the Spirit has made you aware, then seek repentance as you need to in personal examination, prayer, or confession to the Lord, or confession to a trusted friend, and seeking accountability with a trusted friend then come to the table, take the elements, return and we’ll eat together in a moment.

5. If you have tasted the awakening work of the Spirit and have faith and want to repent and follow Jesus, you may see a pastor in the back and they will pray with you, counsel you and help you as you begin the journey of following Jesus.

6. Come to the table as conscience and the Spirit dictate. We’ll eat and drink together in a moment.

7. After we eat and drink, we’ll respond in worship. All are alive, thus Jesus has been good. We will celebrate and enjoy the grace of God.

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