Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as it was written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the thirteenth and fourteenth chapters of this New Testament book. EXCEPT YE REPENT, YE SHALL ALL LIKEWISE PERISH! WHOSOEVER THEREFORE SHALL HUMBLE HIMSELF AS THIS LITTLE CHILD, THE SAME IS GREATEST IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN! EXCEPT YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS SHALL EXCEED THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES, YE SHALL IN NO CASE ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN! As you come to and approach this passage of Scripture you will find that it is chalk full of powerful narratives and encounters between Jesus and those who were present during those days and within that generation. Upon beginning to read with and from the opening verse of the thirteenth chapter you will find that there were those present at that time and during that season who told Jesus of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. What makes the words found in this passage of Scripture so absolutely remarkable and astounding is the fact that Jesus seemed to show absolutely no concern nor regard for the Galilaeans whose blood Pilate had perhaps shed, and which he most certainly had mingled with their sacrifices. Instead of finding Jesus showing any type of sympathy and compassion for those whose blood had been shed, and instead of Jesus showing any type of sorrow for those whose blood Pilate had mingled with the sacrifices He instead spoke unto them concerning those Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans because they suffered such things. Jesus would further go on to declare that those who suffered such things weren’t sinners more than all Galilaeans, and would emphatically declare that unless you repent you would likewise perish. Please do not miss the awesome significance of what is found within these passages of Scripture, for what you will find within it is a powerful declaration of sin—and not only sin, but also in a refusal to sin, and as a direct result perishing within and because of your sin. IN all reality, I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the third and sixth chapters of the New Testament epistle written unto the Roman congregation, as well as the words which the Lord would speak and reveal unto the ancient prophet Ezekiel concerning the soul which sins dying. What’s more, is that when speaking unto the prophet Ezekiel—not only did the Lord declare that the soul which sins shall die, but He would also declare that the son would be judged nor held accountable for the sins of the father, nor the father held accountable for the sins of the son. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the New Testament epistle written unto the Roman saints, as well as the words which are found in the eighteenth chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Ezekiel:
“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: FOR ALL HAVE SINNED, AND COME SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD; being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time His rigthteosness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: seeing it is one God which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make voice the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Romans 3:21-31).
“What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servant of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. FOR THE WAGES OF SIN IS DEATH; BUT THE GIFT OF GOD IS ETERNAL LIFE THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD” (Romans 6:15-23).
“…Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: THE SOUL THAT SINNETH, IT SHALL DIE. But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right, and hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, neither hath defiled his neighbour’s wife, neither hath come near to a menstruous woman, and hath not oppressed any, but hath restored to the debtor his pledge, hath spoiled none by violence, hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment; he that that not given forth upon usury, neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, hath executed true judgment between man and man, hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord God. If he beget a son that is a robber, a shedder of blood, and that doeth the like to any of these things, and that doeth not any of those duties, but even hath eaten upon the mountains, and defiled his neighbour’s wife, hath oppressed the poor and needy, hath spoiled by violence, hath not restored the pledge, and hath lifted up his eyes to the idols, hath committed abomination, hath given forth upon usury, and hath taken increase: SHALL HE THEN LIVE? HE SHALL NOT LIVE: HE HATH DONE ALL THESE ABOMINATIONS; HE SHALL SURELY DIE; HIS BLOOD SHALL BE UPON HIM. Now, low, if he beget a son, that seeth all his father’s sins which he hath done, and considereth, and doeth not such like, that hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, hath not defiled his neighbour’s wife, neither hath oppressed any, hath not withholden the pledge, neither hath spoiled by violence, but hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment, that hath taken off his hand from the poor, that hath not receive usury nor increase, hath executed my judgments, hath walked in my statutes; he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, HE SHALL SURELY LIVE. As for his father, because he cruelly oppressed, spoiled his brother by violence, and did that which is not good among his people, lo, EVEN HE SHALL DIE IN HIS INIQUITY. Yet say ye, Why? Doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, HE SHALL SURELY LIVE. THE SOUL THAT SINNETH, IT SHALL DIE! The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live. Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? Saith the LORD God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live? But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked many doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die. Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? Are not your ways unequal? When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; FOR HIS INIQUITY THAT HE HATH DONE SHALL HE DIE. Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, HE SHALL SURELY LIVE, HE SHALL NOT DIE. Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the Lord is not equal, O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? Are not your ways unequal? Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord God. REPENT, AND TURN YOURSELVES FROM ALL YOUR TRANSGRESSIONS; SO INIQUITY SHALL NOT BE YOUR RUIN. CAST AWAY FROM YOU ALL YOUR TRANSGRESSIONS, WHEREBY YE HAVE TRANSGRESSED; AND MAKE YOU A NEW HEART AND A NEW SPIRIT: FOR WHY WILL YE DIE, O HOUSE OF ISRAEL? FOR I HAVE NO PLEASURE IN THE DEATH OF HIM THAT DIETH, SAITH THE LORD GOD: WHEREFORE TURN YOURSELVES, AND LIVE YE” (Ezekiel 18:1-32).
If you read and consider the words which are found within these passages of Scripture you will clearly encounter and come face to face with the awesome truth—not only that the soul which sins shall die and that it shall die in its iniquity, but also how the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand what is presented before and unto us within these passages, for it is within these passages we come face to face with the awesome and powerful reality that the soul which sins shall die because the wages of sin is death. What’s more, is that when you read of Adam in the garden of Eden you will find that the free gift of life was found in all the other trees of the garden—including the tree of life which undoubtedly would have been at the center of the garden—and yet the wages of sin was death. The wages of eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was indeed death—a reality which the serpent attempted to skew within the heart and mind of Eve. The Lord emphatically declared that if the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was eaten and partaken of then death would ultimately and inevitably follow. It was this concept of death the serpent presented before and unto Eve, for the serpent would speak unto Eve and declare that they would not die from eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but rather—they would become like gods knowing good and evil. We must needs recognize and understand this, for the free gift of life was found within the tree as Adam and Eve could freely partake of the tree of life as often as they wanted. Not only this, but Adam and Eve could partake of all the other trees in the garden freely and without any recourse of reservation—with the exception of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve could freely eat of all the many trees that were found there in the midst of the garden, and they could freely eat of the tree of life, and yet there would come a point in time when they would both succumb to the temptation of the serpent and would eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It would be as a direct result of their eating of fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that their eyes would be opened, they would realize they were naked and would be ashamed, and they would seek to cover themselves and hide from the voice and presence of the Lord. Not only this, but in the day that Adam and Eve sinned and transgressed against the command of the Lord death would be introduced in the midst of the earth, and would pass down through the generations consuming countless millions, if not billions and/or trillions throughout history. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the words found in the fifth chapter of the New Testament epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the same Roman congregation he wrote concerning the wages of sin being death, and how all had sinned and fallen short of the glory of God:
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commandeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:1-21).
It was in the garden where sin was first introduced, and it was in the garden where death would not only be the ultimate consequence of sin, but so also would sin begin to reign within our mortal bodies, as well as within the earth. So much had sin begun to reign in the earth that by the time the days of Noah had emerged and come upon the earth the Lord repented Himself of creating and making man in the earth and purposed to destroy all flesh from the face of the earth It would be during the days of Noah the Lord would destroy everything that had the breath of life in the midst of the earth with the exception of Noah, his wife, their three sons, and their three wives. So powerful had sin’s grip and reign become on the earth by the days and time of Noah that the Lord needed to completely and utterly cleanse the earth by a flood of water which He would cause to cover the face of the whole earth, and consume everything that had the breath of life within its nostrils. We must needs recognize and understand this, for the apostle Paul emphatically declared that the wages of sin is death, and also declared that it was through the disobedience of one man—that man Adam—that both sin and death would begin to reign within and upon the earth. It is this concept of sin and death reigning within the earth that is at the very heart of what the Lord would declare unto the prophet Ezekiel when stating that the soul which sin shall die. It was the Lord who would declare that the soul which sins shall die, but would also declare that He took no pleasure in the death of the wicked. It would be this reality which would also be expressed within the prophetic books of Joel and Jeremiah when both prophets would call and invite the people to return unto the Lord. It would be this concept of returning unto and repenting before the Lord that would be at the very heart of the message and proclamation of both Jesus the Christ, as well as John the Baptist, for both would powerfully invite and call men to repent for the kingdom of heaven was at hand. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the prophetic books of Jeremiah and Joel concerning this concept of returning and repenting:
“Go and pr9oclaim these words toward the north, and say: Return, backsliding Israel, says the LORD; I will not cause my anger to fall on you. For I am merciful, says the LORD; I will not remain angry forever”
“Return, O backsliding children, says the LORD; for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion”
“Return, O backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Indeed we do come to you, for you are the Lord our God”
“IF you will return , O Israel, says the Lord, Return to me; and if you will put away your abominations out of my sight, then you shall not be moved”
”O LORD, are not your eyes on the truth? You have stricken them, but they have not grieved; you have consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to return”
”Why has this people slidden back, Jerusalem, in a perpetual backsliding? They hold fast to deceit, They refuse to return”
“Therefore thus says the LORD: If you return, then I will bring you back; you shall stand before me; If you take out the precious from the vile, you shall be as my mouth. Let them return to you, but you must not return to them”
“Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus says the LORD; Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you, Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good”
”Then I will give them a new heart to know me, that I am the LORD; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart”
“Therefore also now, saith the LORD, Turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: For He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: Let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?”
It is with all of this language of returning in mind that you must consider the words which are found in the thirteenth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the physician Luke, for it is within these words Jesus declared unto those who spoke unto them that except they repent, they would also likewise perish. Not only this, but Jesus would declare this reality twice—first in reference to the Galilaeans whose blood Pilate mingled with their sacrifices, and secondly in reference to those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and slew them. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the tremendous truth that is found within these words, for these words bring us face to face with the tremendous and powerful invitation we have been given, and are being given to not only return, but also to repent before and unto the Lord. It would be both Jesus the Christ, as well as John the Baptist who would call and invite men to repent before and unto the Lord, for the kingdom of heaven was at hand. Furthermore, it would be Jesus who would emphatically declare that unless men repented they would likewise perish—and not only perish, but also perish in their sin. Please don’t miss the truth that is found within these words, for Jesus would not only declare that except we repent we would likewise perish, but earlier on Jesus would declare that unless our righteousness exceeded that of the scribes and the Pharisees we would in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven. It is truly something worth noting and pointing out that we have not only been called to repentance, but we have also been called to righteousness—and not only righteousness, but the righteousness of the kingdom which exceeds and surpasses the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. There was within and during the days of Jesus a righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees which was according to their traditions—and even according to the Law of Moses—and yet Jesus declared unto His audience that unless their righteousness exceeded that righteousness they would in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven. IF we are being truly honest with ourselves we must wholeheartedly admit that not only have we been called to a life of repentance before our Lord Jesus Christ, but we have also been called to a righteousness which exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees. There should be absolutely no doubt within our hearts that we have indeed and have in fact been called to both righteousness and repentance for the kingdom of heaven is at hand and manifested within the earth.
With all of this in mind it’s also worth noting and understanding that Jesus sought to take this even further and link repentance to fruit, for He would go on to tell a parable about a certain man who had a fig tree planted in a vineyard, and how that man came seeking fruit thereon. Much to the shock and disappointment of this man he found no fruit upon the fig tree, and as a direct result he spoke unto the dresser of the vineyard and spoke of three years he came seeking fruit on the fig tree and yet found none. After three years of coming unto the fig tree looking for and expecting fruit this man would call for it to be cut down, yet would be hindered and buffeted by the dresser of the vineyard asking for another year of waiting for fruit. If after this next year there was no fruit then the vineyard would indeed be but down and destroyed. This is worth mentioning and noting, for there is not a doubt in my mind that the vineyard was not only a picture of Jerusalem, but it was also a picture of Judaea during those days, for we know that Jesus came unto His own and walked among them for three years. I would dare say that it was at this particular time when Jesus might very well have been three years into His public ministry within and upon the earth and came looking for fruit upon the fig tree which figuratively was Jerusalem and Judaea, and He found none. For three years Jesus came to this fig tree looking for, desiring and expecting fruit, and yet He found none. Stop and think about the tremendous significance of this reality, as for three years Jesus would come unto Jerusalem looking for and expecting fruit, and yet each and every time He would find absolutely none. For three years He came to this fig tree looking for and expecting fruit, and yet with each time He came unto the city He would find absolutely no fruit growing on it. It’s interesting to note that the fig tree is oftentimes called the “hypocrite tree,” for there are times when it gives the appearance of bearing fruit from a distance, and yet upon closer observation one who approaches it realizes that there is no fruit growing upon it.
When we think about and consider the narrative of the fig tree and the desire for it to bear and produce fruit for three years—and not only the desire for it to produce fruit, but also the absence of fruit that would grow upon it—it is worth noting and understanding that there is a strong and powerful link between repentance and fruit. If we are to truly understand this reality and concept of repentance and fruit it is not only necessary to think and consider the words which John the Baptist spoke unto those who would come unto his baptism, but also the words which Jesus spoke in His Sermon on the Mount, as well as the words He spoke unto the disciples in the upper room on the night in which He was betrayed. What’s more, is that if you read the words which are found in the New Testament epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Galatian churches you will find the apostle also speaking of this great need for fruit within the life of a believer and follower of Jesus. This is in addition to the parable Jesus spoke and delivered concerning the vineyard that was planted and how the husbandman of the vineyard came looking for fruit within it, and yet found absolutely no fruit within it. Consider if you will the following passages and you will not only see the need of fruit as it pertains to righteousness, but you will also see the need for fruit as it pertains to repentance. THE FRUITS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS! THE FRUITS OF REPENTANCE! We must needs recognize and understand the awesome and wonderful truth that when we speak about righteousness and repentance there must needs be fruit that is evident of both within our hearts and lives. We dare not, we cannot and must not think that we can have repentance without and apart from fruit, nor that we can have righteousness without and apart from fruit. We must needs have fruits which is directly linked and manifested to both repentance and righteousness, as both are desired by the Lord. With this in mind it is absolutely necessary to think about and consider that we as disciples and followers and disciples of Jesus the Christ are indeed fig trees in which He looks for fruit. The question Jesus asked is when He returns to the earth will He find faith, however, I would also add to this and ask the question of when Jesus returns to the earth will He find fruit. Not only this, but it’s interesting that fruit was directly linked—not only to the garden of Eden, but also in the free gift of life, and the declaration of death. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the various passages written within the New Testament gospels and epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the churches in Galatia:
“…the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; as it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God. Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire” (Luke 3:3-9).
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or fig of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:15-20).
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in His love” (John 15:1-10).
“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, He may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another” (John 15:16-17).
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:22-26).
We dare not and must not miss the awesome and tremendous significance of what is found within these passages of Scripture for they not only point to the awesome and powerful reality of fruit and its direct link and connection to repentance (“bring forth fruits worthy of repentance”), but it also brings us face to face with the reality of fruit and its link to righteousness. It is within the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John we encounter and come face to face with Jesus declaring that we have been chosen to bear and bring forth much fruit, and that our fruit should remain. It is the apostle Paul—when writing unto the churches in Galatia—who would actually describe that fruit in great detail, and the evidences of righteousness within the life of a disciple and follower of Jesus the Christ. Not only this, but the apostle Paul would also describe this fruit as the evidence of the Spirit working within us to produce and cultivate the fruit that is pleasing and acceptable in the sight of the Lord. It is as you read the words which are found beginning with the sixth verse of the thirteenth chapter that we find Jesus speaking a parable concerning a fig tree which he planted in a vineyard, and how he came and sought for fruit on that fig tree for three years, but found none. There is not a doubt in my mind that the vineyard was representative of the land of Israel and Judaea during those days, and the fig tree within the vineyard was representative of the city of Jerusalem. Jesus came unto the city of Jerusalem for three years looking for fruit within and upon the fig tree of this city, and yet each year He came looking for fruit He would find none. We must pay close attention to the truth surrounding these words, for we know that Jesus engaged in public ministry for roughly three and a half years. With this holding true we might very well conclude that when these words were written they might very well have been written after three years of public ministry within and during that generation. For three years Jesus would come unto the fig tree of Jerusalem looking for fruit, and yet would give one more year for fruit to be found on the tree. If in fact in that fourth year fruit was not found in it the tree itself would be cut down.
It is interesting to continue reading the words which are written and recorded within the rest of the thirteenth chapter—and not only the words which are found in the rest of the thirteenth chapter, but also the words which are found in the fourteenth chapter. It is within these particular passages of Scripture we find a powerful description of the sabbath day—and not only a description of the sabbath day, but Jesus’ willingness to exercise His authority over and upon the sabbath. ONE GREATER THAN THE SABBATH IS HERE! ONE GREATER THAN YOUR TRADITIONS IS HERE! ONE GREATER THAN YOUR RULES IS HERE! ONE GREATER THAN THE LAW IS HERE! ONE GREATER THAN WHAT YOU HAVE BELIEVED ABOUT THE SABBATH IS HERE! If and as you begin reading with and from the tenth verse of the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the physician Luke you will find Jesus teaching in one of the synagogues as would be His custom and practice. In fact, if you read these chapters and passages of Scripture you will find that after speaking of repentance, and after speaking concerning fruit, there would be this dramatic encounter with the sabbath—and not only with the sabbath, but also the dramatic encounter between Jesus and the scribes and the Pharisees during those days and during that generation. We must needs pay close attention to the words found in these passages of Scripture, for what we find in these passages of Scripture is a truly astonishing declaration of the eternal Son of God concerning His authority and His dominion over the sabbath. Not only this, but Jesus exercised His dominion and authority over the sabbath day by doing one single thing—one single thing which would so provoke, and instigate and infuriate the scribes, the Pharisees, the chief priests, the elders of Israel, and even the Jews themselves. It is worth noting just how angry and how furious the Jews and those within the religious community would grow toward Jesus when He would heal another individual on the sabbath. Oh there is a strong under current and tone running within and through the gospels of Jesus’ exercising of authority on the sabbath—and not only His exercising authority over the sabbath, but also His willingness to heal on the sabbath. We must needs recognize and understand that Jesus knew that healing on the sabbath would anger, upset and frustrate the scribes, the chief priests and the Pharisees during those days, and He would do it anyway. Please do not miss this, for we must needs pay close and careful attention to the reaction of the Jews and the religious community during those days.
ANGER OVER THE SABBATH WAS IN ALL REALITY ANGER OVER AGENDA! ANGER OVER THE SABBATH WAS INDEED ANGER OVER TRADITION! ANGER OVER THE SABBATH WAS INDEED ANGER OVER RULES AND REGULATIONS! ANGER OVER THE SABBATH WAS TRULY AND INDEED ANGER OVER WHAT WAS PERCEIVED AS BEING A VIOLATION OF THE LAW OF MOSES! We must needs recognize and understand that the anger, the frustration, and the offense that would be incurred in the midst of and surrounding the sabbath is a dramatic and powerful picture of those among us during this generation who have a difficult time with Jesus interrupting our agendas, our plans, our itinerary, and that which we have set in motion. If there is one thing the gospels reveals it’s that Jesus had absolutely no issue with interrupting the status quo, had absolutely no issue with interrupting the traditions of men, and had absolutely no issue with interrupting the sabbath day with the rules, the regulations and traditions that were so closely connected and associated with it. Jesus had absolutely no concern with upsetting the religious community and establishment—particularly and especially when their being upset would be directly linked to His doing good. In fact, one of the greatest questions Jesus would ask regarding the sabbath was whether or not it was lawful to do good on the sabbath. Jesus would indeed ask the question of the scribes, the chief priests, and the Pharisees whether or not it was lawful to do goo on the sabbath, or whether it somehow violated the Law of God on the sabbath. Would you like to know what one of the biggest ways we violate the sabbath is? Would you like to hear and be brought face to face with two distinct realities which are manifested in the midst of the sabbath day among us and how we actually violate the sabbath—and not only violate the sabbath, but also violate the Law of the Lord and the call to do good, to love our neighbor, and to show mercy? The answer is actually found in the second chapter of the New Testament epistle written by James. It is within this epistle where we are not only brought face to face with showing partiality in the midst of our gatherings and in the midst of our assemblies, but also when we fail to demonstrate our faith through works—works which are manifested in showing and doing good unto others, and in actually loving our neighbor as ourself. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the second epistle written by James concerning two of the greatest sins and tragedies facing our churches today:
“My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? Hearken my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? If ye fulfil the royal law according to the Scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: but if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment” (James 2:1-13).
“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he have faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead..Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only…For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:14-26).
AND THE RULER OF THE SYNAGOGUE ANSWERED WITH INDIGNATION, BECAUSE THAT JESUS HAD HEALED ON THE SABBATH DAY, AND SAID UNTO THE PEOPLE, THERE ARE SIX DAYS IN WHICH MEN OUGHT TO WORK: IN THEM THEREFORE COME AND BE HEALED, AND NOT ON THE SABBATH DAY! [LEAVE THE SABBATH DAY ALONE! THE SABBATH DAY DOES NOT BELONG TO YOU! YOU HAVE NO AUTHORITY OVER THE SABBATH]. DEPART IN PEACE, BE YE WARMED AND FILLED! WHAT GOOD IS A SABBATH YOU PROFESS TO BE ALIVE AND YET FAITH IS DEAD? WHAT GOOD IS A SABBATH YOU PROFESS TO BE BENEFICIAL TO THOSE WHO COME UNTO IS, AND YET NOT ONLY IS FAITH DEAD, BUT THERE ARE NO WORKS THAT DEMONSTRATE AND SHOW FAITH? [WOULD YOU DARE SEND THE CROWDS AWAY HUNGRY THAT THEY MIGHT FAINT ALONG THE WAY?] THE SAME PRIEST(S) AND LEVITE(S) WHO WOULD DARE SAY “DO NOT HEAL ON THE SABBATH” WOULD BE THE SAME PRIEST(S) AND LEVITE WHO WOULD PASS BY THE MAN LEFT DYING, BRUISED, NAKED AND BLEEDING ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD, AND WHO WOULD THEMSELVES PASS BY ON THE OTHER SIDE.
As you read the words which are found within these chapters you will find an incredibly heavy emphasis on the Sabbath day—and not only the Sabbath day, but also Jesus’ willingness to do good and bring healing on the sabbath. The more you read the words found in this passage the more you will encounter the awesome and powerful reality that not only was Jesus willing to do good on the Sabbath, but Jesus was also willing to do good at the expense of the traditions of the scribes, the Pharisees, the chief priests, the elders of Israel, and the Jews themselves. Jesus wasn’t merely willing to do good on the sabbath, but was willing to completely go against everything those within that generation thought, held to and believed. Jesus had absolutely no hesitations, nor any reservations with healing on the Sabbath day, and He had absolutely no qualms with offending people’s traditions, rules, practices, agendas, thoughts, and the like. What I so love and appreciate about the words found in this passage of Scripture is that the tenth verse begins and opens with Jesus teaching in one of the synagogues [as was His custom], and teaching on the Sabbath day. Jesus would indeed teach on the Sabbath day, and it would be on this particular Sabbath day where there would be a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift herself up. What we find next is absolutely astonishing and remarkable, for not only did Jesus upon seeing her call her to Him and declare unto her, saying, “Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity,” but Jesus also laid His hands on her. Immediately after Jesus laid His hands on her after declaring that she was loosed from her infirmity she was made straight, and glorified God. The ruler of the synagogue—upon seeing the healing and miracle which Jesus did—would being indignant and outraged at Jesus’ actions. What’s more, is that this ruler wouldn’t direct his indignation toward Jesus, nor would He speak unto Jesus Himself. What Luke writes and records concerning this ruler was that he would answer with indignation because of Jesus’ actions on the Sabbath day, and would declare unto the people, saying, There are six days in which men out to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” Oh please don’t miss the awesome significance of the words found in this passage of Scripture, for the words which are found therein paint a powerful picture—not only of many of our churches, but also many of our leaders, many of our pastors, many of our elders, many of our deacons, many of our principle men and women within the church.
It is rather interesting to read the words found in this passage of Scripture and come face to face with the reality that this ruler of the synagogue wouldn’t address Jesus directly, nor would he speak to Jesus. What the ruler of the synagogue would do—in addition to his becoming indignant with Jesus’ healing of this woman on the sabbath—is respond and lash out in anger and indignation speaking unto the people. The ruler of the synagogue would speak unto the people which were present there within the synagogue and would declare unto them that there were six days in which they were to work, and that they were to come and be healed on those days. The ruler of the synagogue would further go on to discourage and rebuke the people for even thinking they could come into the synagogue on the sabbath day and be healed of their infirmity and that which bound them. Please do not miss the significance of what is found within this passage of Scripture, for the words you find here in this passage paint a powerful picture of those among us within the body of Christ, and those within many of our churches who would rather allow men and women to enter into the church building, and enter into our assemblies, and enter into our congregations and gathering and remain bound by their infirmity, and bound by Satan. In fact, Jesus would speak unto the ruler of the synagogue and would indict him for his hypocrisy and being a hypocrite, as well as speak unto him concerning this woman whom Satan had bound for eighteen years. Jesus would speak directly unto this ruler of the synagogue—this leader within the church if you will—and asked him point blank whether or not it was lawful to do good on the sabbath. Not only this, but Jesus would also speak unto this man and emphatically declare unto him that this woman had been bound by Satan for eighteen years—and not only bound, but bound by Satan—and that it was necessary for her to be loosed on the Sabbath day. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and powerful truth, for it has the incredible ability to highlight and underscore the hypocrisy in many of our churches and houses of worship.
THE PARTIALITY IN OUR HOUSES! THE DISMISALL OF THOSE IN NEED! THE SCATTERING OF THE HUNGRY CROWDS! LEAVING BOUND THOSE WHOM SATAN HAS BOUND WITHIN AND THROUGHOUT THEIR LIVES! We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are painted on these pages of Scripture, for what we find within these passages of Scripture is an incredibly powerful reality of how religion would choose to leave this woman in bondage, and would choose to leave this woman bound by Satan for another year, or another decade, or another eighteen years, or perhaps even the rest of her life if it meant the Sabbath would not be violated. Oh the question we must ask ourselves is what we would be willing to forfeit so our rules, so our traditions, and so our agendas and our plans might go unchecked and unchallenged. The ruler of this synagogue was unwilling to allow this woman to be set free and delivered on the sabbath day, and was willing to allow this woman to remain captivate and bound—perhaps for the rest of her life that the rules, the traditions, and even the Law might go unchallenged. It’s quite interesting to think about the fact that even though Jesus emphatically declared that He did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it He would choose to offend religion, and would choose to offend the chief priests, the scribes, the Pharisees, the elders of Israel, and even the Jews themselves that He might do good on the Sabbath day. It would be in this particular passage we find and read Jesus speaking directly unto the ruler of the synagogue and indicted him for his hypocrisy. Jesus would speak directly to this ruler of the synagogue and would not only indict his hypocrisy, but he would also emphatically speak concerning this woman and her being a daughter of Abraham who Satan did bind for eighteen years. Jesus would speak directly unto this ruler of the synagogue and declare unto him that this woman whom Satan had bound for eighteen years deserved to be loosed from the bond on the Sabbath day. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for it brings us face to face with the powerful truth that Jesus was never willing, nor was He ashamed, nor did He have any reservation with offending the traditions, offending the rules, offending the practices, and offending the established order and system of that day—even that which had been set up and established for years.
When and as we read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture we are brought face to face with the incredible truth that this ruler of the synagogue would have rather this woman remain bound eighteen years instead of being loosed, delivered and set free from the activity of Satan within her life. Not only this, but as you read the words which are found in the fourteenth chapter you will find the narrative of the Sabbath continuing, as in the fourteenth chapter we find Jesus going into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day. It would be there in the house of the chief Pharisee they would watch him to see what He might do and how He might act. What I so absolutely love about the words found in the fourteenth chapter is that even in the house of the Pharisee there would be a man who would come before Jesus who would have the dropsy. It is worth noting and pointing out that when Jesus saw this man who had the dropsy He perceived within His heart and His spirit the thoughts and motives of those which were present, and He would ask if it was lawful to heal on the sabbath day. It is actually quite tragic that when Jesus asked this question whether or not it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath those which were present would held their peace and would not speak a word. What Jesus does next is truly remarkable and astonishing, for we find Jesus taking this man who had the dropsy and deliberately and intentionally healing him—and not only intentionally healing him, but doing so on the sabbath. This is something we must needs pay close attention to, for it seems to indicate the strong and powerful truth that Jesus was willing to offend the scribes, the chief priests, the Pharisees and the elders of Israel that good might be done on the Sabbath. Jesus was willing to offend the scribes and the Pharisees during those days by deliberately and intentionally healing on the Sabbath regardless of their thoughts, their reactions, their responses, their opinions, and the like. Not only this, but I would also dare say that Jesus deliberately chose to heal on the Sabbath day that He might provoke religion, and that He might provoke the system that was present during those days. You cannot read the four gospels and not encounter and come face to face with the truly astonishing truth that Jesus deliberately and intentionally chose to provoke the scribes and the chief priests, as well as the elders of Israel, the rulers of the synagogues, and even the Jews themselves that good might be done on the Sabbath.
We must needs pay close attention to the words which are found in these passages of Scripture, for the words found and contained therein present us with a powerful truth that those who found themselves quarreling the most with Jesus’ activity on the sabbath were those who could and would not let go of their traditions, and those who chose to hold on to their agendas, their plans, their patterns, their processes, and the like. Jesus deliberately and intentionally chose to heal on the sabbath—and not only heal on the sabbath, but also to do good on the sabbath that the traditions of man might be confronted. It is truly something worth noting that when you read the gospel narratives found within the New Testament that Jesus was willing to do good on the Sabbath, and that there were men and women who had spent countless Sabbaths coming into the synagogues to hear and listen to the teaching of the rulers, the chief priests, and even the teachers of the Law, and yet in the midst of all that teaching there would be countless needs that would go unmet and unfulfilled. Tell me dear brother, tell me dear sister—what good is all your teaching, what good is all your preaching if men and women come into your midst and yet cannot be delivered from that which binds and keeps them captive? What good is all your preaching, what good are all your sermons, what good are all your series and messages if when men and women enter into your midst they can’t experience deliverance and freedom within their hearts, within their minds, within their souls, and within their spirits? Of what use and what value is all your religion if men and women cannot experience healing and wholeness within your midst? Oh it is true you might boast of great teaching, and you might boast of great preaching, and you might even boast of great numbers in attendance, and yet men and women enter into your midst and can’t experience any type of healing within their physical bodies. Oh men and women might be able to hear men preach the word of God from behind the pulpit, and yet despite the preaching of the word those who enter into the midst of the service and house of worship leave completely and utterly untouched and without any change within their hearts and lives. Oh men and women might enter into your church services, and men and women might come in to your gatherings and your assemblies, and yet they are forced to leave the same way they came in because you are unwilling to allow your traditions, your agendas, your plans, your rules and your itinerary to be uninterrupted.
If there is one thing I absolutely love about the gospel narratives found within the New Testament it’s that Jesus was willing to offend the sabbath, and Jesus was willing to offend the rules and the traditions of the scribes, the chief priests, the elders of Israel, and even the Jews themselves that good might be done on the sabbath and that men and women might experience deliverance. I am absolutely amazed and astounded how many men and women the scribes, the chief priests, the rulers of the synagogues, and the like would have chosen to allow men and women to remain bound by Satan, and remain tormented by evil spirits, and remain oppressed rather than allow their rules, their traditions, and the like to be challenged. It is truly something worth noting and pointing out, for the question we must ask ourselves when reading these words is whether or not we are willing to allow Jesus to enter in among us during our services, during our assemblies, and during our gatherings, and to fulfill and accomplish that which He desires, and that which He purposes. We must needs ask ourselves whether or not we are willing to allow Jesus to enter into our services, our gatherings, our assemblies, our meetings, and the like with full freedom to accomplish that which He desired. Oh how truly powerful it is to read the narratives found within the gospels and to consider how Jesus was willing to offend the sabbath day in order that He might fulfill the divine mandate, will and purpose of the eternal Father. Jesus was willing to offend the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of Israel that the divine will, plan, and purpose of the Father might be fulfilled in the midst of the earth. What we must ask ourselves is whether or not we are willing to allow the Spirit and the Christ to enter into our services, and to enter into our midst and fulfill and accomplish that which they desire, and that which they purpose to bring about. Are we willing to cast our agendas, are we willing to cast our traditions, are we willing to cast aside our plans, are we willing to cast aside our itineraries that the divine will, the divine plan and purpose of the Father might be fulfilled and accomplished in our midst?