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Repent or Perish

 

parable of the fig tree

parable of the fig tree

Most of us heard someone ask, “How can God allow that to happen?” Perhaps it was the tragic loss of a child, or a marriage, or a natural disaster affecting countless innocent victims. It’s human nature to ask such questions in the depths of despair. Some seize these situations as evidence that God doesn’t exist, doesn’t care, or is punishing in some way. Surely such tragedies could be prevented by a loving and compassionate God!

In our Gospel today such questions were in the minds of those who challenged Jesus about a tragedy that had affected them deeply. Whilst not clearly spelt out, it seems the genocide perpetrated by Pilate and the desecration of Jewish sacred places had led them to question God’s character. “Surely God could have prevented this from happening!”

Jesus’ answer is puzzling: implying that they wrongly assumed the victims deserved their fate because of sin committed by them. This was a traditional Jewish view – one that is held by many today. But Jesus exposes the foolishness of this assumption. It’s a harsh fact that bad things do happen to people, regardless of any ‘good’ or ‘bad’ label we might apply.

Luke then presents the parable of the unproductive fig tree, which seems fairly straightforward, but raises the question: Where is God in this story? Do we see God reflected in the farmer who wants only a productive orchard? Or is God reflected in the worker who urges patience and promises to nurture the tree to encourage fruitfulness?

Perhaps Jesus was saying that God can be found in both. Jesus urges us to recognise that God expects us all to live the lives for which we were created. Jesus reminds us that God’s mercy is never failing, God’s goodness and compassion is inexhaustible.

God doesn’t send tragedies to punish us. God seeks to bring good out of evil, new life out of death. God says, “Come to me, you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Listen to me and your soul will delight in the richest of food. Come to me, that your soul may live” (Isa. 55:1-3).

When we struggle with faith in times of heartbreak, Jesus reminds us that God is always with us in our pain, faithfully sustaining us with love and mercies.

 

Sunday 24th February 2013       Lismore 7.30m & 9.30am, Wyrallah 5pm

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18;  Philippians 3:17-4:1;  Luke 13:1-9

OT  Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18      God’s Covenant with Abram     1After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.’ 2But Abram said, ‘O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’ 3And Abram said, ‘You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.’ 4But the word of the Lord came to him, ‘This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.’ 5He brought him outside and said, ‘Look towards heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ 6And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.  7 Then he said to him, ‘I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.’ 8But he said, ‘O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?’ 9He said to him, ‘Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtle-dove, and a young pigeon.’ 10He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. 11And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. 12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him. 17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire-pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates,

 

EPISTLE      Philippians 3:17 – 4:1       17 Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. 18For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. 19Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. 20But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. 21He will transform the body of our humiliation so that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself. 41Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved.

 

GOSPEL     Luke 13:1-9     Repent or Perish      1At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2He asked them, ‘Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? 3No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. 4Or 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? 5No, 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. 7So 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?” 8He replied, “Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig round it and put manure on it. 9If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.” ’