This Sunday’s Gospel gives us a lot to think about. Jesus portrays a couple of different messages - they don’t contradict each other, but they might get us confused.
In Jesus’ day, it was typical for people to assume that if you were experiencing some sort of suffering or tragedy, it was because you were a particularly bad sinner and were being punished.
Jesus quickly dispels this idea. At first, it’s a nice message. (Paraphrased) “No no… don’t worry, they aren’t being punished because they’re particularly bad sinners.” The crowd lets out a collective sigh of relief. But then he continues, “Actually, each and every one of you are deserving of punishment. You’re all sinners, not just ‘them’. Don’t look at ‘them’ and judge, just to feel better about yourself. SO, repent. Repent or you’ll be punished just like them.”
“Well, that escalated quickly,” says the crowd.
But then Jesus shares a parable about a fig tree, and He shows us the patient, persistent heart of God.
In the parable, the fig tree isn’t bearing fruit year after year and the man who owns the property decides to cut it down. Ask yourself this question: When you first hear that, what do you associate the barren tree with? Do you automatically think of other people or other things in your life that might be the tree that isn’t bearing fruit? OR do you think of yourself?
Then, the gardener tells the man not to cut it down. He offers to “cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it” in the hopes that it will bear fruit in the future.
Friends, this is how the Lord is with us. He is always giving us another chance. He is creative. He is persistent. He doesn’t see our fruitlessness as a sign to cut us down - He sees it as an opportunity to show His handiwork, cultivate the ground around us, and help us bear fruit.
We all sin and fall short of the glory of God. We all need the Lord. We need to let Him in to our hearts and minds to till the soil of our lives. We need to recognize our need for a Savior and the abundant life He offers.
This Lent, the Lord is offering us much. The Lord is tilling the soil. He’s pruning our branches. He’s cultivating the ground around us. We may perceive it as inconvenience or change, but He’s working on you. It’s not always easy or comfortable, but His desire is that you will be more fruitful… and fully alive.
Question/challenge: What’s an area of your life that you think can be more fruitful? How can you invite the Lord into that area and let Him do His thing so you can bear more fruit?
Let’s chat again next Wednesday.
Dom and Joe
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