Shovel Writings: Luke 13:1-9
“I tell you, Nay: but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”
Twice Jesus challenged the commonly held assumption that tragedy victims suffer because they have done something particularly bad. So, why would Jesus then make a statement to perpetuate the same fallacy he had exposed? Perhaps we have read something else into his words.
Some suggest that the answer is found by inserting the correct meaning of the word repent, and it does … partially. The fact is that the Greek word for repent (metanoia) does not mean “turn from sin”, but refers to a change in perception or a change of mind. I say “partially” because even with the correct interpretation of “repent” Jesus’ statement still does not establish just another view on what one must do to keep from perishing.
So, what am I saying? I am telling you that this change of mind is not just a clarification of a partial statement but is totally integrated into the whole of Jesus’ encounter with the people.
So many pastors have pounded the pulpit, demanded that people repent of their sins and condemned them to hell (Or at least God’s contempt) for failing to stop those sins. Ironically, it is that judgment and condemnation that Jesus came to change our minds about — knowing that this self-hatred actually causes us to keep on in our broken ways.
So few of us ever stop to try and assess whether or not we have any idea what Jesus is talking about when we read His words. We simply take our English language understanding of the translated words and assume that, if we know the meaning of the word, we understand Jesus’ point.
Perhaps it’s time to change tactics?