Taste and see the Lord is good
W/O of Rev. Jogy Thomas
W/O of Rev. Jogy Thomas
Epiphany MTC, NY
V 8&9 “ ‘Sir’, the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”
A little six-year-old girl was watching the evening news with her father. He became aware that she was talking, not to him, but to God. He began listening to her, and heard her say. “Our father who art in heaven, why did people have to die in the air plane crash? Why did people die from that hurricane? Why do people starve for food? (Dr. Dale Miller). Suffering is a great challenge to our faith. Throughout history, philosophers and theologians have struggled with the question of evil and the fact of innocent suffering. The common people ask the question: if God is good and loving and powerful, why do innocent people suffer?
Luke gives us a pair of stories that call us to repentance (vv.1-5) and a parable that illustrates the patience and love of God (vv.6-9). Both stories call for repentance. Repentance is a major emphasis in this Gospel (3:3; 3:8; 5:32; 13:3, 5; 15:7; 16:30; 17:3; 24:47). The story of the Galileans (vv. 1-5) warns of the coming judgment –“unless you repent, you will all perish” (v.3). Jesus denies that the eighteen were worse offenders than others, but uses the opportunity to call His listeners to repentance. The fig-tree parable (vv.6-9) offers hope that the Lord will defer judgment to another day. We should not confuse this parable with the fig tree in Mark 11: 12 -14. The two stories have little in common other than a barren fig tree.
Jesus is not warning of physical death, of course. Instead, He uses death as a metaphor for the coming judgment. As we see in the given passage the image is shocking, the need for repentance is urgent. The parable of the barren fig tree, the gardener intercedes on behalf of the tree, pleading that it be given another year by offering to dig around it and fertilize it. Then, if it did not bear fruit in another year, he could cut it down. Nevertheless, although there is mercy in Jesus’ parable, it is still a warning of the urgency of repentance. The time until the judgment is extended for just a short time.
The parable of the fig tree invites us to consider the gift of another year of life as an act of God’s mercy. John the Baptist declared that the ax lay at the root, poised to strike (3:9). Any tree that did not bear fruit would be cut down. God would give even an unfruitful fig tree another chance. Luke has balanced the warning of God’s judgment with promises of God’s mercy. The bright side of the warnings in Lk 13: 1-5 is that Jesus affirms that these calamities are not God’s doing. On the other hand they should stand as graphic reminders that life is breakable, and any of us may stand before our Maker without a moment’s notice.In this passage, however, the gardener pleads for and is granted one more year. The year that Jesus proclaimed “the year of the Lord’s favor” (4:19), would be a year of forgiveness, restoration, and second chances.
Thank You Lord for giving us a second chance. Help us to be truly grateful in all our lives. The lesson of the fig tree is a challenge to live each day as a gift from God. Amen
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:
Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgiving, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings. (William Arthur Ward)