Sunday, March 13, 2011

Luke 13: Here comes the judge

As a typical American I expect judges to punish the guilty and protect the oppressed. But when Jesus says God will act like a fact, like MY judge.....I get a little embarassed for him. He sounds like a sidewalk preacher when he says "unless you repent, you too will all perish."

....Which reflects well on sidewalk preachers, but not so much on me. Jesus is warning me of judgement and sentencing to come, and I wish he'd change the subject to something a little more "positive." Back then folks figured everything bad that happened was God's judgement on the particularly wicked; today we figure God is too nice to judge. Jesus says it plain to everyone: repent or perish.

Then Jesus enforces a Restraining Order on a demon who has been physically assaulting a woman for 18 years. She stands up. She is thrilled. The crowd is thrilled. The Pharisees are upset. Oh the horrors of violating the Sabbath! Jesus dryly wonders aloud why they, who on the Sabbath would unbind a thirsty donkey but not a suffering child of Abraham. This is the side of Jesus I love best: the brave, compassionate, maverick Deliverer.

Then Jesus gets all negative again, talking about the unpopular, sentencing side of God the Judge. When someone asks if only a few people will be saved, he doesn't tsk tsk them for their self-righteous, exclusive narrow-mindedness. He says, "make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to."

Here is the hard truth, the rock that I would stumble on apart from grace. Repent or perish! Some day the door to God's mercy will shut - no matter how they beg - and they will cry and despair and be excluded. My human wisdom rebels, but this is Jesus talking. Here comes the judge.... all rise!

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