Friday, May 25, 2012

Luke 13:6-9

This past Sunday (4/15/12), we were in Luke 13:6-9.  We had visited this passage the week before from the base camp of Mark 11 – another mention of a leafed-out tree bearing no fruit.  This past week we discussed several things related to Lk 13, but our main focus was:
(1)    What kind of fruit did/does God expect to find on us?  Short answer:  fruit of
          repentance (Matt 3:8)
a.      Acknowledgement of sin paired with change in attitude toward the sin which 
results in change of behavior.
b.      Testimony and service to others, not out of duty but because of what God has
done for us.  (Matt 25:31-37)
(2)    Possible reasons the vinedresser in Lk 13 may have requested time to “dig around
          and fertilize” the tree.
a.      To improve the soil so that the tree would be better able to bear fruit.
b.      To possibly transplant the tree “out of darkness and into … light” (Col 1: 13).
c.       To mark the tree as set apart for a special purpose.

But we still don’t really know what happened to the tree in Lk 13.  Did it bear fruit after the 4th year, or was it cut down?  I told you last week that I was playing with possible meanings of the 3 + 1 years.  Well, I have considered the possibilities even more this week, and this Sunday (4/22/12) we will start digging deeper into one of them (the one I feel fits the essence of Jesus’ message most closely).  We won’t yet have a satisfactory answer to the question posed in class, i.e. “What happens to the tree?”, but know that we’re working toward it together.

For now, we know this.  The man came looking for fruit on the fig tree in Lk 13, and the vinedresser pleaded with him to give it one more year.  Jesus came hungry to a fig tree in Mk 11, and the tree was cursed.  I wonder if He had walked by that fig tree every year of His 3-year ministry.  I wonder if its time was up.  God more than wants His children to produce fruit; He expects it.  Are we producing fruit?


  1. In studying for this week’s lesson (4/29/12), I came across a verse that jumped out at me. Joshua 24:13, “I have given you a land for which you did not labor and cities you did not build, and you dwell in them; you eat from vineyards and olive yards you did not plant.” (Amp). Immediately I thought about themes from a message I happened to hear this week. Like Kelli’s Daily Word devotion on Matt 3:10 a week or so ago, God went to some trouble to make sure I heard that message and read this verse, and I know that it wasn’t just for my benefit! We’ll get back to Joshua 24:13, but for now …

    If you have time, grab your Bible and turn to Deuteronomy 7:1-6 (or look it up on Done reading already?  In these verses, God is giving the Israelites instructions as to what they are to do as they drive out the current inhabitants of their Promised Land. This same set of instructions – destroy completely, tear down altars, do not intermarry – is echoed many times throughout most (maybe all) of the books from Exodus (beginning the journey) through Judges (possessing the land). God was also very specific about what would happen if the Israelites did not follow His instructions. Go now to Judges 1:19-36. Don’t get lost in the names of tribes and places; focus instead on the repeated pattern of partial obedience to God’s command. Continuing on just three more verses into Judges 2, God makes it clear that partial obedience = disobedience. In choosing disobedience, they chose the consequences.

    We ended last week (4/22/12) in Joshua 4:21-24, talking again about testimony and conversation – specifically conversation with our children. Judges 2:10-11 (link below) shows us that the partial obedience of one generation led to full-blown disobedience in the next. It’s so sad, given all that God had done for and shown His people! Just as God had a Promised Land for the Israelites, He has one for you and me. As we continue to walk toward and into the Promised Land God has prepared for us, we need to ask ourselves if we’re being faithful to His command to completely destroy the enemy in our path and tear down any pagan altars that are in our lives. Like the Israelites (Judges 2:10-11), if we don’t, it will be the next generation who pays the price.

  2. Last week (4/22) in Sunday school, we talked about how God stopped the Jordan River so that the Israelites could cross over and begin to claim their Promised Land. Once they had crossed, God told Joshua to have a leader from each of the 12 tribes of Israel to go back into the middle of the still-dry riverbed and take a stone to set up as a memorial. The stones would seem out-of-place to later generations, inviting children to ask their fathers what they meant and giving the fathers an opportunity to testify about what God had done for them personally (Josh 4:20-24).
    Today I was thinking again about Gilgal and those stones. Twelve stones set up on a shore would have been odd, but something else would have been odd about them. Think for a second about where the stones came from … the river. What would be different about stones from out of the middle of a river? They would have been smooth. Could God have had the Israelites bring stones specifically out of the middle of the river, at least in part, to show how smooth stones become over time? Smoothed as they are washed continually with water.
    The apostle Paul tells us that we, too, are washed and, like stones, are smoothed in the process (Eph 5:26-27).
    Nichole Nordeman has a song entitled “River God.” Listen to it if/when you have a chance. (not an official video).