Biblical Reference: Luke 13:1-9
Tune: Traditional Hebrew melody, adapted by Thomas Olivers and Meyer Lyon, 1770 ("The God of Abraham Praise")
Text: Copyright © 2010 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
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I found The People's New Testament Commentary to be helpful in understanding Jesus' challenging teaching in Luke 13:1-9: "There are no explanations for such tragedies (the Galilean worshipers being killed as they offered their sacrifice at the temple and the tower falling on eighteen people), but they still point us to the reality that we live in a world in which we are not in control, and constitute a call to repentance. Jesus' hearers are urged to avoid constructing an explanation for the evils of life and to see such calamities as reminders of the fragility of life; anyone, relatively good or evil, could find himself or herself standing before the final Judge without any advance warning. The address to the crowds that had begun with a story in which "relax" was the assumed goal of life (12:19) ends with the call of Jesus to repent as the crucial decision of life. Here too, repentance means the bearing of good fruit, as illustrated in the next paragraph, vv. 6-9" (p. 231). The last line of the hymn is a prayer that we may "love our neighbors more and bear much fruit." Jesus showed love for his neighbors throughout his ministry; immediately after this teaching in Luke, he healed a woman (Luke 13:10-17).
The People's New Testament Commentary by M. Eugene Boring and Fred B. Craddock (Westminster John Knox Press, 2004) is a wonderful single volume commentary that Carolyn used in teaching a course for commissioned lay pastors and is one she recommends to all pastors and lay people.
Christian Doctrine by Shirley Guthrie (Westminster John Knox Press, 1994) was originally written for an adult Sunday School class and became a bestselling overview of the Christian beliefs. Carolyn had it as a college textbook; it was later revised and it has been used for adult classes in two churches where she has been a pastor. This book has an excellent chapter on sin; see pages 212-227.
See also the pastoral column on sin by Carolyn and Bruce Gillette on page 2 of the February 2010 newsletter of the Limestone Presbyterian Church.