Is Jesus having a stressful day? His words are not what we normally expect from our loving friend. He speaks of repentance and judgment, old words that were much more common in another era of church life. Maybe we need to hear hard truths spoken with fire.
Of course, what’s up with the crowd? Their minds are fixed on terrible things—the mingling of blood and terror, disasters both human and natural. Maybe they’re trying to get their judgment right; maybe they ask to protect themselves. “Jesus, I know I’ve got a lot to work on, but the folks in those tragedies were surely worse sinners than we are, right? Just look at what happened to them.” The attitude that bad things happen to bad people reigned even then. Maybe pointing to the misfortune of others took their minds off their own insecurities. None of us is perfect and we all fall short, but there’s always someone else worse off.
Instead of engaging with them about degrees of sinfulness and pronouncing judgment, Jesus offers something much better. “Come home.” That’s what I hear him say. “Repent” can involve changing our minds. It can mean that we turn around and head in a better direction. Jesus invites his audience, including us, to do some soul searching. Instead of looking out there for answers, look inside. Hear the simple call offered to each of us: “Come home.” Come to God.
Whatever life hands us, Jesus offers us comfort and acceptance. Jesus offers us a chance to come home to God’s love that will bring us new perspectives and will refresh our often bruised and sometimes stained spirits. So, come home. God is ready to embrace us as we are, and that makes all the difference. Our entrance to a new world comes through that embrace of God.
How do you respond to Jesus’ call to repent? What does that word mean to you?
God, help us come home to you today and feel your embrace. Amen.