Support and Resources For Pastors and
Christian Ministry Professionals
Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor
Third Sunday In Lent
#1: "The Message of the Fig Tree"
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.A., M.Div.
I. Judgmental people are judged by their own standards--Matt 7:1-2; John 9:1-3
Re: verses 1-3: "Alla reverses the false conclusion they had been making... They are to think of their own sins and of how they may be delivered from them before death... The way of escape is repentance, see Lk3:3... Every calamity that sweeps men away is a divine call to repent and a divine warning to escape perishing forever by repenting in time. Sin is the cause of all evil in the world, and when it works out in striking ways...it warns against itself and its eternal effects, but does so only because God, through Christ, has made a way of escape through repentance." (Richard Lenski, Interpretation of the Gospel of Luke)
II. The Owner is looking for fruit--Isa 5:1-7; Matt 3:8-10, 7:16-20, 21:43; Joh 15:1-12, 16; Rom 7:4; Gal 5:22-23; Phil 1:9-11; Col 1:10; Jam 3:17
III. The Gardener intercedes--1 Joh 2:1-2; Rom 8:34; 1 Tim 2:5-6; Heb 7:25ff, 9:24
"Jesus is not a blind, foolish optimist. This final trial is to be brief. So even before it is made Jesus reckons also with failure and provides for it in advance... Jesus considers what shall be done if the tree, Jerusalem, actually proves hopeless--"then cut it down." It is a fact that judgment is often preceded by an intensification of grace... This supreme effort cuts off every shadow of excuse--as in Isaiah 5: What more could have been down with my vineyard that I have not done? ...Man may nullify every effort of that liberating, saving power and willfully cast it from him...his doom is then sealed, and sealed by himself... But if the power of saving grace succeeds in freeing him...the work is wholly one of grace, and the glory of it belongs to grace alone. (Richard Lenski, Gospel of Luke)
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When I was growing up, we had many fruit trees on the farm where I lived. I remember where the trees were, but mostly I remember the fruit they gave us and what my mother and grandmother did with that fruit: the apple pies, apple cake, and the cold apple cinnamon soup my grandmother would make from the dried apples; the cherry pies and cherry soup; the peach trees gave us fruit that was canned for the winter, a "little taste of the summer in the dead of winter"; the pears that we ate off of the tree and canned for later use. Well, you get the idea. We werent so much interested in the trees as we were in the fruit they gave us for food.
In Jesus time, grapes were favorites, for the wine they produced and for raisins. Figs were used for medicine (2 Kings 20:7) and were often pressed together and formed into "cakes" for food (1 Sam 30:12, Jer 24:2).
Heres the point: The only way that fruit trees and grape vines were any good to anyone is for the fruit they produced. The Bible says that we were made to bring fruit that serves God and fruit that helps other people. I dont mean the kind of "fruit" that you can eat, but the good things that you do as Gods child. Jesus made you Gods child by dying for your sins and by giving you His Word to believe. Now you and I are to bring Him fruit to show that we really belong to Him.
The Bible gives us some examples of this fruit: LOVE--that means caring for people whether you like them or not. JOY--that comes from knowing that God sent His Son to die for your sins and that He loves you even when you sin against Him. PATIENCE--If you have a little person in your house, you know what it is to be patient, but it doesnt have to be a little person. PATIENCE is needed everywhere in this life.
Just as we loved the apples, cherries, peaches and pears from our orchard, so God loves the fruit we bring to Him in our lives. Youre a growing tree. See the rest of your life as your chance to show God and those around you that you are a good tree. Its the way to being happy too--to love God and to love the people He created to be with us.
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#2: "God, The Master Gardener"
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.
4. "Three years": a long enough trial for a fig tree, and so denoting probably just a sufficient period of culture for spiritual fruit.
5. "Dig": loosen the earth about it and enrich it with manure; pointing to changes of method in the divine treatment of the impenitent, in order to freshen spiritual culture.
6. "...the cure of the gardener Jesus is quite radical. He offers his own body as our new source of fertilizer, becoming "dung" (dead matter) in the form of a crucified body on the cross. He takes our dead and trashed existences, and in exchange gives us himself as the new source of life. His tree allows our trees to find new soil, new roots." (Cathy Lessmann)
7. "...God's long-suffering, which is a merciful fact, must not be construed as indicating that He will never terminate the period of grace." (William F. Arndt)
8. What if God is looking for a sign?
9. God is looking for fruit inspectors, not religious nuts!
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This page was revised on: Friday, January 20, 2006 12:10:34 PM