Repent or Perish

Wabush, a town in a remote portion of Labrador, Canada, was completely isolated for some time. But recently a road was cut through the wilderness to reach it. Wabush now has one road leading into it, and thus, only one road leading out. If someone would travel the unpaved road … More


Twice in this passage Jesus repeated identical words to reinforce the necessity of repentance (vv. 3- 5). Calamity and destruction await all who refuse to heed the warning. He uses two examples of how calamity can happen to anyone. The first told about was some Galileans who, while they were offering sacrifices were killed by Pilate (v. 1). The second concerned 18 seemingly innocent bystanders in Siloam who were killed when a tower fell on them (v. 4). Jesus is pointing out the fact that death is going to come to everyone sooner or later. But not everyone needs to stay dead. He promises that those who believe in Him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). Only repentance can bring life as people prepare to enter the kingdom.

Jesus gives them further teaching on the subject by giving them a parable of the fig tree (vv. 6-9). The tree seems to stand for Israel but can also be applied to the individual lives of those who claim to be God’s servants. The lesson is that when God gives spiritual privileges, He has a right to expect fruit. If fruit does not show in a person’s life, judgment will come. If there is no visible change, that person, like the figless fig tree, will be judged. If we have been enjoying God’s special treatment without giving anything in return, we need to begin to bear the fruit God has created us to produce.

Repentance is not like the person who sent the IRS a check for $150.00 with the remark, “If I can’t sleep, I’ll send you the rest.”


The next time I hear about a tragedy that claims many lives (like the Tsunami was in Asia), I need to ask myself, “Am I just taking up space, or am I bearing fruit for God’s glory?”

Luke 13:1-9 (English Standard Version)

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." 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.'"

View this passage in NIV (Bible Gateway) »