Pilate reportedly ordered the execution of some Galileans just as they were offering sacrifices in the Temple. Hearing this news, Jesus reminds his listeners of the eighteen people who died when a tall stone structure near the pool of Siloam crumbled. Pilate’s bloodletting is a grave political injustice, while the collapse of the wall is a tragic accident. Jesus might score popularity points by judging the wicked Romans. Instead, he instructs the fuming disciples to repent. When there is suffering, we can blame the perpetrators, bad luck, or even God. But Jesus says that everyone, the innocent victims as well as the doers of evil, needs to repent.

Why do bad things happen? There are many reasons, and repentance is always in order. Repentance isn’t merely apologizing for sin. Biblical repentance is turning toward God and changing our thinking to see everything through God’s eyes. Dietrich Bonhoeffer taught us that repentance is “not in the first place thinking about one’s own needs, problems, sins, and fears, but allowing oneself to be caught up into the way of Jesus Christ.”*

We can repent with trust in the love of God. God does no evil. In Jesus, we see how God redeems evil and suffering. God bears it for us. Instead of raging against Pilate, Jesus stands before him humbly, with compassion Pilate never before has witnessed. Jesus absorbs every tragedy, all injustice, into his body. Pilate’s last cruel act, sealing Jesus in the tomb, fails. Jesus, the fully repentant one, turns toward God, and God raises him up to redeem him and all of us. Before such wondrous love, we can only repent.

*Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison (New York: SCM, 1974), 361.

Lord, whatever I’ve suffered and whatever suffering I've caused, I repent. I turn to you. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Luke 13:1-9

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Lectionary Week
March 18–24, 2019
Scripture Overview

In the midst of Lent, when many might be giving up a certain food that they love, we read about feasting. The focus is not on physical feasting, but on feasting as a metaphor for communing with God. Isaiah describes food and drink that one cannot buy with money, for it comes freely from the Lord. The psalmist describes the state of his soul as being hungry and thirsty. Only meditating on God’s faithfulness nourishes his soul at the deepest level. Physical food is momentary, but spiritual nourishment endures. In First Corinthians, Paul appeals to this imagery. Although the ancients experience this spiritual nourishment, some pursue physical pleasure and stray into idolatry and immorality. Partaking in this nourishment should cause us in turn to produce spiritual fruit, as Jesus admonishes his listeners.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Isaiah 55:1-9. When has God’s grace inverted your expectations?
Read Psalm 63:1-8. As you mature in faith, what new questions about God do you ask?
Read 1 Corinthians 10:1-13. Think of a time you have faced great temptation. How did God help you endure it?
Read Luke 13:1-9. For what do you need to repent?

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

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