Understanding Jesus: Less ruthless than we are

Sermon notes from this morning on Luke 13:1-12

1. Repent or perish
Stark warning is given twice in verses 3 and 5. Jesus is addressing the underlying attitude and common misconception that if someone is suffering then they deserved it.
This is an incorrect, indeed outrageous assumption – are we morally superior to those who died in the tsunami? to those who died on 9/11?
Perhaps we don’t think like this. But we should think there but for the grace of God go I….
But perhaps if we are suffering we think – what did I do to deserve this?
Jesus doesn’t say that there is no connection between suffering and sin – but the connection goes back to Eden, not a specific sin. We cannot draw comparisons between ourselves and the victims of tragedy. But also, it doesn’t say that they were just unlucky, we’re all good people really – Jesus assumes that we are all guilty. He then warns us that we are all destgined to perish and unless we repent we will all perish.

2. Cry Freedom

What kind of fruit is in the vineyard? This is the third, of four times in this gospel that the parable is used (prev in ch.4,6, next is in ch.14). This is the 3rd chance to respond properly. One more chance vv10-17 – Freedom. Jesus brings freedom. Jesus straightens the woman’s back and brings her freedom. Jesus sets us free from Satan. Satan is strong and guards his captives jealously, but Jesus is stronger.
Jesus is more compassionate than religious people often are (they have compassion for the donkey by untying on the Sabbath, but criticise Jesus for freeing (same word as untying in Gk apparently – luO?) the woman. Play on words. Are we with Him or against Him?

3. Think small
vv18-21 – this parable is also used in Matt, and Mk, but the emphasis is different here. There, it is a parable about the smallest seed becoming the largest tree, here the point is about the small actions of individuals being used to build the Kingdom of God. God doesn’t rely on the great and the powerful. We need to recover a healthy distrust of worldly power. Small strategies needed – a single verse in a condolence card, a single conversation, a single tract left on the Tube…

3. Think small

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