Repent or Perish
Posted in Disappointment
Scripture: “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.” – Luke 13:24
As we continue our journey through the Gospel of Luke in this season of Lent, Chapter 13 feels like a moment when Jesus has grown tired. We have tender stories, sweet parables and moments of hope, but we also see moments when Jesus is direct with us. Chapter 13 feels like one of those moments.
In this chapter, Jesus is not trying to shield us from the reality of what God expects from us. The parables and messages cut straight to the point, and honestly, isn’t that what we all need sometimes? We all need that person — a friend, spouse, parent, someone — who will look us in the eye and plainly state that we need to quickly change direction in our lives or risk damages. It feels as though Jesus is making that statement to us here.
There is no warmup in Luke 13. Right out of the gate in verse 3 we are told, “Unless you repent, you too will all perish.” The same phrase is repeated in verse 5. Jesus does not say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven awaits you.” He says, “Repent, or you will perish.” Twice, in three verses, he warns us of the grave consequence of not turning from our sin.
The Parable of the Fig Tree (v. 6-9) is another example. Does anyone join me in feeling like the Fig Tree here? Constantly being nourished by our Lord and never bearing any fruit? How long should the expectation be for God to feed and water us, without getting anything in return?
Continue reading to verses 23-30, undoubtedly my favorites in this chapter, where Jesus states in verse 24, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and not be able to.” As The Masters golf tournament is fast approaching, I think about the “narrow” entrance through which many golf fans wish they could pass but cannot. The Masters is quite possibly the most coveted ticket to any event in the world. South Carolinians possibly take it for granted, given the proximity, which likely creates a little more ticket availability to some, but nonetheless, it is a hard ticket to come by. During practice-round days, the patrons max out at around 50,000 on the course (40,000 on tournament days). Let’s say of the world’s 7.8 billion people, a mere 5 million attempt or at least wish to attend the tournament? Yet very few people– less than one percent — get inside the gates of Augusta National.
So, is it easier to walk through the narrow door into Heaven? Likely not, but I believe we all assume that it is. We are called to earnestly seek out and work to know Jesus and follow him. We certainly cannot save ourselves; that is by grace and grace alone. However, we absolutely have the responsibility to turn from our sin and trust in Jesus. Isn’t that what Jesus is harshly warning us in verses 3 and 5?
As I was studying Luke 13, I read commentary* by Matthew Henry on christianity.com. He summed up the last section of verses 23-30 by saying this, “IF we reach heaven, we shall meet many there whom we little thought to meet and miss many whom we expected to find.” That hits me hard. We live in a sinful world and we do not have the strength to do this alone. I always fall short! I pray that we all continue to strive for a deeper relationship with Christ, so that we do not miss our chance to walk through that narrow door.
Prayer: Loving Father, thank you for putting up with us. Thank you for your patience with us, even though we continue to disappoint you. Thank you for your grace. Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us so that we may all have eternal life. Please, Lord, give us the courage to seek you out and turn from our sin. Amen.
Submitted by Charlie Mimms
*Matthew Henry’s Commentary, christianity.com.