LESSONS TO BE LEARNED
Lord, thank You for the gift of repentance.
Read LUKE 13:1–9
Repent or Perish
13 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’
8 “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Draw near to God today in an attitude of self-examination and reflection.
Two historical events underlie this passage, though neither is referred to elsewhere in the New Testament. Pilate, who was as cruel a ruler as most others, has apparently executed some Galileans at some point who were seeking to offer sacrifice. At another time, part of the walls of Jerusalem near the Pool of Siloam have collapsed with loss of life. We are familiar with such tragedies today. The conventional interpretation in those days was that they are the consequence of personal sin: that those who perished deserved it. Jesus raises this idea in a rhetorical question in order to dismiss such thinking. Stuff happens. Those who have died are no more guilty than anybody else. The fact that these events have not happened to his hearers by no means lets them off the hook, since all of them (and all of us) are also sinners liable to perish. The point is to learn from such incidents by framing them around ourselves.
Today we are more likely to look for someone else to blame, possibly even to scapegoat. The blame game is an unhelpful modern preoccupation, whereas learning from things that go wrong helps to prevent similar things from happening again. The glib tendency to connect unfortunate events with divine judgment and to identify someone who might be thought to have incurred God’s displeasure (we might think of a number of categories) is a vindictive and self-righteous practice.
One of the Greek words for judgment is krisis, which we have as “crisis.” When crises occur, it is wise not to blame the victims or to look round for scapegoats, but to become introspective. What might this say about me or us? How can we prove to be better human beings for God’s glory?
Read the parable in verses 6–9 once more. The farmer was allowing the fig tree space to bear fruit. In which ways is God giving you time to improve?
Thank You, Lord, for divine patience with Your flawed but redeemed creatures down here.
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