Luke 13: Repent or Perish

New Testament: Student Study guide, (2003), 64


Imagine a beautiful tree with branches full of your favorite fruit. The fruit is plump, ripe, and smells delicious. Now, imagine a fruit tree with large branches and lush green leaves. However, even though it is the right season and you look closely, you cannot find even one piece of fruit on the tree. Jesus used a story like this to teach about righteousness and repentance.As you read Luke 13 also look for other teachings about repentance and how those teachings apply in your life.

Understanding the Scriptures

Luke 13

Dresser (v. 7)Caretaker (one who prunes, nourishes, and harvests) 
Why cumbereth it the ground (v. 7)Why should it use up the soil 
Dung it (v. 8)Fertilize it 
Bowed together (v. 11)Hunched or bent over 
Three measures of meal (v. 21)Large amount of flour 
Brood (v. 34)Chicks 
Desolate (v. 35)Empty 

Luke 13:1–5—“Except Ye Repent, Ye Shall All Likewise Perish”

Commenting on these verses, Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote:

“Does God send accidents, violent death, and other calamities upon [individuals] to punish them for their sins? Apparently there were those among Jesus’ hearers who thought so. Accordingly, we find the Master expressly saying that those subject to the misfortunes here involved were not greater sinners than their fellows whose lives were spared.

“True it is, as a general principle, that God sends disasters, calamities, plagues, and suffering upon the rebellious, and that he preserves and protects those who love and serve him. …

“But to say that particular individuals slain in war, killed in accidents, smitten with disease, stricken by plagues, or shorn of their property by natural calamities, have been singled out from among their fellows as especially deserving of such supposed retribution is wholly unwarranted. It is not man’s prerogative to conclude in individual cases of suffering or accident that such has befallen a person as a just retribution for an ungodly course.

“… For that matter, the Lord brings difficulties upon the most righteous of his saints to test and try them. …

“The real lesson to be learned from Jesus’ conclusion, ‘Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish,’ is that there was no difference in righteousness between the slain and the living, and that unless the living repent they would perish with the dead” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:475–76).

Studying the Scriptures

Do two of the following activities (A–C) as you study Luke 13.

Activity A iconInterpret a Parable

Read the parable in Luke 13:6–9 and draw a picture of what Jesus described. Label each item with a word or sentence that you think is an appropriate interpretation of that item. (For example, the husbandman refers to God and the fig tree represents the Jews among whom Jesus lived.)

Activity B iconLiken the Scriptures

Luke 13:10–17 tells of a woman who was healed on the Sabbath in the synagogue. Answer the following questions to help you liken that story to yourself and learn about how the Savior can bless you with His miraculous power:

  1. 1.

    What could cause a person to be spiritually “bowed together” (bent over as if carrying a burden)?

  2. 2.

    Read Luke 13:12–13. When might Jesus call to us so that we might be “loosed” from our problem and “made straight”?

  3. 3.

    According to verse 16, what does Jesus especially want us to be loosed from?

Christ healing a lame person

Activity C iconWrite a Parable

Jesus gave two parables in Luke 13:18–20 that teach about the growth and development of the Church. Read these two parables, and then write a parable of your own (using familiar examples or items from your life) to illustrate the growth of the Church. (For more information on leaven, see “Understanding the Scriptures” for Mark 8:15, p. 45.)