Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’
“‘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.’”
Leave it alone for one more year…
We all suffer. It’s part of life.
This week I heard someone say something to the effect of, “The question is not the meaning of life. The question is what do we with suffering?”
To live is to suffer.
That’s a cheery thought isn’t it?
We live in a world that is sick and in need of healing.
We are a people who are sick and in need of healing.
Those lines have taken all kinds of new meaning in the midst of a global pandemic that shows no signs of stopping. Yet, I think, the pandemic is an outward expression of an inward reality.
Jesus opens this little bit of Scripture by saying, “Guys, bad things happen. It’s life. What are you doing right now to bear up under the suffering? Are you readying yourself to handle the hard stuff?”
Then he tells this little parable about a vineyard owner, a fig tree, and an arborist. The vineyard owner wants to get rid of the fruitless fig tree to plant more vines. The fig tree is just taking up space and soil. It’s useless.
The arborist says, “No, wait. Let’s deal with the issue. Let’s fix the soil and get some good stuff to the root of the issue and see what happens next year.”
My friends, we are so much like the fig tree. So much of the work that needs to be done is the soil and roots of our lives. We need to do work in us so that we can experience fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control). When we do this work in our lives it’s often not seen but the effect is tangible.
You know who else needs to do that work?
That guy over there.
That lady over here.
Do you want more time to do the work and prepare for the suffering of life? I do. So do they.
Too many of us see people in the midst of the suffering and hardship of life and write them off. Why? Because we don’t even realize they are suffering.
So, we are like the people Jesus is talking to and wonder what kind of “sinner” they were that God would punish them this way.
That’s not how it works.
We will eventually walk the way of the suffering.
Hopefully, we will have done the work to persevere and come out the other side.
Hopefully, we will have people around us who will say, “Give it another year.”
Hopefully, we will be the person that says, “Give it another year.”
I think we can summarize Jesus words, like we can so many other times with, “Love well.”
Grab the podcast version of the episode here: https://anchor.fm/kneejerkdevotional/episodes/2--November-3--2020-elvar3