3rd Sunday of Lent 3.3.13 Luke 13.1-9

22 02 2013

Repentance is All, But it Takes Time

This is a really challenging passage for any preacher. Might it help to connect it with the sort of question you might have on a street corner with a prominent local atheist or maybe with some sixth formers? How do Jesus’ methods of engagement and argument compare with what might work today?

Luke 13 1-9

At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2He asked them, ‘Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? 3No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. 4Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.’

6 Then he told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. 7So he said to the gardener, “See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?” 8He replied, “Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig round it and put manure on it. 9If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.” ’


To help give shape to the reflection here are three types of question: head questions, heart questions and hand questions. They are about our intellectual response, our emotional response and our practical or behavioural response. I hope that you will want to work at all three levels.

Head Questions

  1. What’s the back-story on the Galileans?
  2. What is the meaning of ‘repent’ in verses 3 and 5?
  3. What does the parable tell us about God?

Heart Questions

  1. How do you think the people mentioned in v 1 felt about what Jesus said?
  2. What do you feel about the tower of Siloam?
  3. And if you were the fig tree – how would you feel?

Hand Questions

  1. What would be a good starting point or next step in your journey of repentance?
  2. Is there anyone you need to give a second chance?
  3. What good fruit might do you hope to bear in the future?


These questions are intended to challenge you to engage more closely with the passage and to hear and feel what it has to say to you.  That’s more than a five-minute task. And so is the follow-up, working out what you might want to say to others as a result of engaging with the passage with head, heart and hands.  Take your time.