At that very time there were some present who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them–do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'”
From Carol Pearce
We all know how persuasive Katie can be. So when she texted me and asked if I would write a Lenten devotional for Luke 13:9, I agreed. It’s just hard to turn her down. I could not specifically recall the scripture’s content but that did not bother me at the time. Hurriedly, I read the scripture and my first thoughts were oh no what next? I should have read it first. Talk about a tough scripture assignment! Multiple complex theological issues such as sin and repentance thrown in with murder and terrorism. Then Jesus delivers an admonishment about turning away from our sins or else . Where is this going friends? Let’s just say the worst thing is not the last thing. All is not lost.
I don’t know about you but to me it seems that the earth has tilted on its axis with the pandemic, political and social unrest and a coarsening of our verbal exchanges. Friends during this time frankly I am just not in the mood for flagellation of myself or others. Therefore I was joyous to read the last part of the scripture about the fig tree. The vineyard master, the vineyard keeper and the fig tree being the key themes in this parable. The poor fig tree was just not bearing fruit, the vineyard master wanted to cut it down but the vineyard keeper wanted to be patient and give it a second chance. The master agreed to one year and then if no fruit — up she comes. I will leave allegorical assignment to one who can reflect on any portion of this parable that one desires. My reflection point is the mystery and magnificence of our God providing patience and granting second chances. I just have to keep looking for that hope.
We are often our own worst enemies. We often circulate blame and low self esteem thoughts in our heads. If you don’t think so, observe your own critical thoughts when you feel you have done something wrong or not measured up to self appointed expectations. Many of your thoughts contain words that you would never speak to anyone. Try another exercise and literally draw a picture of your own internal self-critic. It won’t be pretty. Learn to challenge your critical thoughts about yourself. They are just thoughts and quite frankly are rarely true. It is certainly not what our Good Shepherd thinks of us. It is often not hard for many of us to believe there is a God. But do we believe in God? Do we really believe in the God of patience and second chances for our own lives? The journey from Lent to Easter involves the profound love for us reflected in the resurrection. Let’s be resurrection Christians and give ourselves a break.