In the book of Job, Job after suffering tragedy after tragedy is visited by his good meaning, but unknowing friends who suggest
he must be suffering such events because he is not right with God, and in today’s Gospel, Jesus feels the same sentiment from those who bring him the news of Pilate’s murderous actions against the Galileans.
News from Galilee of the murder fellow Jews, God’s people murdered as they were before God offering up sacrifices! Why Jesus, what did they do or not do to deserve such a horrible end to life?
Jesus responds, but not as was expected. He does not question over the details of this horrific tragedy and nor does He make a statement over the actions of Pilate, but asks those bearing the news: “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way?”
Before Jesus stood sinners who saw not their own sin, but only the sin of the Galileans who most surely must have greatly angered God to deserve such a death and so, like Job’s friends they clearly see this must be a logical cause and effect situation.
They must have deserved it.
Sorry guys but in Jesus statement “Do you think that those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans?” He has cut straight to the real issue he sees before Him, not the problem of those in Galilee, but rather the problem of those in His presence who know of sin, but know not their own. Jesus, not judging or breathing fire and brimstone, but rather out of His concern for them jolts them out of such flawed thinking and dangerous state of mind by stating to those around him, ‘Unless you repent, you too will all perish!’
Brian Jones: founder and original leader of the Rolling stones at age 27 was found dead in his swimming pool with greatly increased heart and liver size due to years of drug and alcohol abuse with the coroner’s report stating “death by misadventure”, and shortly after Peter Townshend from the band “The Who” wrote a poem titled “A normal Day for Brian, A man Who Died Every Day.”
Jim Morrison lead singer of the Doors and Jimi Hendrix in song also wrote and sang his tributes. Both would be dead within two years. Jim Morrison found dead in his bathtub from heart failure, said by many due to cocaine abuse and Jimi Hendrix choking on his own vomit. Both were 27 years old. Kurt Cobain: lead singer of Nirvana found dead next to his shotgun. Amy Winehouse: alcohol poisoning and Janis Joplin from drug overdose, all only 27 years old with Janis once writing that she endures 23 hours a day only for the 24th when she can be herself, perform and feel happiness. A statement that makes those words from her number 1 hit (written by Kris Kristofferson) Me and Bobby McGee seem hauntingly appropriate:
“One day up near Salinas, Lord, I let him slip away,
He’s looking for that home and I hope he finds it,
But I’d trade all of my tomorrows for one single yesterday
To be holding Bobby’s body next to mine.
Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose,
Nothing, (and yeah) that’s all that Bobby left me.”
All 27 years old. Tragedies-I think so. All caused from their own actions-pretty much. Selfish in death and deserving our judgement?
“There bar the grace of God I go.” As with us, did God know them before they were created in their mother’s womb? As with us, did they not come from their mother’s womb in the love of the Saviour? As with us would they not have grown with a desire for life and happiness? And why, why are so many people who have trod the same path of abuse and recklessness still be walking this earth? Some still under the curse of self-abuse, and some still with the scars but restored.
It’s a long way down and a long way out and the difference between life and death at the bottom can sit on a knife edge. “There bar the grace of God we go”, and for some of us, there through the grace of God have we come out.
Did those who spoke of the Galileans repent and be saved? God knows but we don’t.
Did these talented musicians repent and be saved before the age of 27? I don’t know. But what I do know is that God says to me, and to you “Repent” that we not perish but be saved, and if that be a dying bedside repentance or a daily lifetime of repentance. Be it repentance from the heart of Jimi Hendrix, a world dictator, Judas Iscariot or from us here today-God’s grace shall not see us perish but in His forgiveness and salvation have eternal life in heaven. The Grace of God that we trust in to receive eternal life. A never ending life that I expect we need as we see come to grips with and understand just how in all things and in all situations was God doing His stuff to save.
A Pastor, scholar and teacher asked us third year theological and pastoral students “How our prayer life was going.” More out of fear than anything else did we nod and reply “”pretty good.”
And he, more out of knowing the human heart and mind than his observations replied, “No it’s not. But don’t worry about what you haven’t been doing, just re-start and keep working on it.”
If he was in our congregation today, he could ask the same of me in regards to repentance and I’m guessing both my and his responses would be like that of ours to each other those six years ago.
Repent of not repenting?
And what of the statement of Martin Luther in his letter to his friend and fellow theologian Phillip Melanchthon saying, ‘Beware of aspiring to such purity that you will not wish to be looked upon as a sinner, or to be one.’ And again, ‘God does not save people who are fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly but believe and rejoice even more boldly… As long as we are here in this world we have to sin.’
Then there’s Paul in Romans chapter six, verse one who after telling us that “in Jesus’ obedience that many are made righteous. That the law came in to increase trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,” but then to us, as like Jesus knowing the confused thoughts of those before him, Paul likewise answers against what human logic would make of such a statement with so:”What shall we dot then? Are we to sin that grace may abound? By no means.”
“Sin Boldly”, and yet, “by no means sin?”
I am really starting to see myself at the base of that hill in Jerusalem 2,000 ago and hearing a guy called Jesus on the cross ask His father to “forgive them for they know what they do.”
Truth is Luther in stating to “Sin Boldly” is talking of matters of conscience. A bad conscience of those who the devil has successfully tempted to sin so that he can then accuse, ridicule and mislead that they’ve finally gone too far. To get them to doubt and wonder if they are really saved in Faith in Jesus alone. Lies of deceit and trickery to which Luther answers: yes you’re right, I did sin, but I am forgiven. And guess what, no matter what you say in your lies, when I sin again I am not going to listen to you, your lies and words of damnation, but to the Words of truth of that the Saviour and know, that in my confession, my desire for forgiveness from Him has been granted.
Repentance, it is a change in direction, where one stops doing what they are doing, about faces, and then finds themselves on the correct course of action.
Repentance, is that not was Luther was talking of, turning from one’s lies to the truth of the Lord?
Repent of not Repenting enough. By no means sin, but still falling to sin. Statements akin to those who ask through worry of having fallen to the unforgivable sin. Statement’s or thoughts that clearly show that the one thinking it is clearly repenting, clearly uncomfortable with their sin, and clearly not to have broken the unforgivable sin, which is basically not wanting forgiveness. Clearly not broken because if are they worried about it, in itself shows they haven’t. Repenting of not repenting enough not wanting to sin, but sinning, same thing.
After that last merry go round are you know as confused as I am?
Yes, again I see myself at the base of that hill in Jerusalem 2,000 ago and hearing a guy called Jesus on the cross ask His father to “forgive them for they know what they do.”
Truth is, we pretty much do know what we do and that is why we are no longer at the base of a hill, but now at the base of a cross where an innocent man named Jesus has been murdered. A tragic death not at the age of 27, but pretty close at only 33.
Those mentioned earlier in the 27 club as it’s called and Jesus not much older. Did they all have a hand in their death. In a way- yes. Were those in the 27 club and Jesus loved by God, absolutely.
The same, maybe in those two things but that’s where it ends because the reality of repentance is not that of our often seemingly logical yet false conclusion that unless first we repent, then will only God come to us.
The reality is that God did not call humanity to repent so that Jesus might come. He was sent to be with sinners, dying for them, so all might repent because of him, and now, now He comes amongst those He calls to repent, and because He is amongst us, we repent. To daily hear those words from Romans Chapter six. That: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into His death. We were therefore buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Jesus was raised from the dead by the Glory of The Father, (that) we too might walk in newness of life.”
Three days after we stood at the foot of that hill and then the cross of a man Jesus do we know He was raised in Glory.
There at the base of that hill do we no longer stay that we hear a man named Jesus “cry to His Father that he forgive us because we do not know what we do”
But there at the base of the cross of Jesus Christ our Saviour we do we remain for though He came when we knew Him not, there at the base of that cross no longer do we see a just man named, but hear the very son of God, Jesus Christ our Saviour cry to His Father that we receive forgiveness for what we now know. That we know the greatest story ever told and know the man who walked the greatest life ever lived.
To kneel before our Saviour on bended Knee and know and accept the grace and forgiveness of God the Father because of faith in His Son Jesus Christ who lived and died, so that we too daily will be raised here on our earthly journey to walk in a newness of life.
To daily repent, receive His forgiveness and know that in faith in Jesus Christ alone it to be so. To know that when we are called home that we will then with Jesus, remain in the newness of life eternal, as we too most surely know now, that He will remain with us here as we run, limp, crawl or in need, be carried towards that great day. Amen.