United Presbyterian Church of West Orange

Date: March 20, 2022

Sermon Title: “It is Time”

By Minister Kim Braxton


Scripture: Luke 13:1-9 Luke 13:1-9: 1


It is Time


Tell us how bad he is and how good we are. We are the righteous ones. Your chosen ones. The elect of Israel. Come on Jesus condemn pilot and praise us. We’ll wait….. Instead Jesus responds “unless you repent the same will happen to you.”


Wait. What. This is not what we were expecting. You are the kind and gentle one. You aroud with sweet fluffy lambs under your arm. You sit with little children. Even your silk pressed hair and beard is soft and frizz resistant. Even in the blazing heat of the Middle East. This can’t be right.


But Jesus, that kind and gentle savior, said what He said and then followed it up by sharing a story about 18 people being killed when a tower collapsed on them. And then closed this illustration with the same phrase, “But unless you repent, YOU TOO will all perish.” It’s like He wanted to be sure that heard Him clearly. Say it one more time for the people in the back.


Repent or perish. Aww but this isn’t a word that they expected to hear from Jesus. Not then, not now. See He can speak to them like that not us, not the chosen ones of God, the Elect. Them being those others that are outside of the church. Those unconnected “thems” that we have no problem passing judgment on. Those thems that don’t look like us, don’t talk like us and sure nuff don’t worship like us. Those are the thems this message is pointed to.


Right? Wrong! Jesus brought this message of repentance to church straight to us. See it is possible to live your entire life in the church, be brought up following every doctrine and tradition. Attend every service and when you face Jesus hear the words “Repent or perish.”


Well preacher, I take issue with your interpretation of the sacred text this morning. Because I repent EVERY time I do something wrong. I always tell God I’m sorry and ask for forgiveness.


Well allow me to enlighten us this morning that there is a marked difference between asking for forgiveness and repentance. Forgiveness does not have the component in it that requires a change of behavior. Repentance however requires you to not only acknowledge the wrong and requires a change in behavior.


Make it plain preacher. Okay. Say your teenager takes your car without asking for permission. When they come home you are understandably angry. And they respond that they are sorry and ask you to forgive them. And because you are a loving parent, you forgive them.


Then one day you have someplace to go. You gather your stuff together and walk out to the garage. And when the door opens your car is not there. Your car. The one you make the payments one, pay the insurance and the maintenance for. The one you filled with $86 dollar in gasoline THAT car…isn’t there. You can’t believe it.


Then here they come pulling up into the driveway and you instantly know at that moment when they may have apologized but they hadn’t repented. They just knew you would forgive them because as a kind and loving parent that’s your job. Right? You don’t have a choice really. At the end of the day really what are you gonna do? So take your keys back, hear my apology, grant me my forgiveness, and make sure the tank is full next week when I take your car again.



Scandalous I know but isn’t that the way we treat the Lord sometimes? The bible teaches us in Romans 2:4 “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” Please don’t mistake the delay of consequences for your actions and think you have gotten away with what you’ve been struggling with for so long. That God gave you a pass, that it really doesn’t matter. In the same way that an ungrateful child will find themselves locked out of car privileges and caressing the handlebars of an electric scooter as they scoot to their job to pay you back for the gas they burned up. You have a choice – Repent or perish.


Now Jesus then ties this lesson you with a parable. In verse 6 he begins the story of a vineyard owner. He spots a fig tree that has no figs. Now fig trees have lush beautiful leaves and when you see a fig tree in the Bible it represents provision and lushness but a Fig Tree should also have some figs on it. This particular fig tree was using up all the nutrients in the spoil, taking up the vinedresser’s time, attention and resources and not putting in the work.


Clearly this particular fig tree didn’t understand the assignment. Tree You had one job to do and that is to produce figs. Now it takes a fig tree approximately 3 years before it bears fruit. And for three years the vinedresser was faithful. They groomed and pruned and nourished this tree in expectation it would produce. The labor was necessary in order to reap a good harvest. However on year 3 no figs.


The owner of the vineyard is justifiably angry. This is a lost investment. Why keep throwing money at this lost cause. It’s not producing so chop it down. Repent or perish…. Sound familiar?


This alludes to a final point I want to highlight. The debt we owe God. Debt is something that most people can relate to. You either are in debt struggling to get out or you are using debt to leverage a better financial position. Debt is a serious business in America, if you doubt me or think I’m exaggerating I suggest you do a test.


Try missing a payment on your mortgage, car loan, whatever and you will quickly realize the intensity that creditors can pursue you with in order to claim their payment. Settle their books and balance the account. Not a single cent will be left behind. They are relentless and they will not stop until every cent of your outstanding balance is paid in full. Preacher what does this have to do with the text this morning? Well, we all have a debt of sin before God that someone must pay (Romans 3:9-31). “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” But we have a choice either we accept what Jesus does it in our place by His sacrifice on the cross, or we will be responsible for paying every last cent before God, resulting in a debt we can never totally remit. That is why Jesus warns us so strongly about the need for repentance in this passage. He knows that we don’t have it within our own capability to pay this debt and He knows the eternal consequences if we choose to leave this debt unpaid, allowing our sin to go into collections so to speak. Knowing this He is offering us a way out the option to repent instead of suffering the consequence of perishing.


Don’t just say “you’re sorry” then you’ll miss it. Repent, turn away from it because we know from Hebrews 10:30-31, “For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” you never know when that chance you receive will be the final one. And one lesson we’ve all learned from this new time we live in we can’t predict what is going to happen on any particular day.


If you’ve been wondering “is it the right time for me to try again. To renew my relationship with Jesus. To repent.”


I was sent here this morning with a simple message.


It is time. The doors of the church are open.