Summary: Sermon using the parable of the fig tree to speak of the relationship between repentance and bearing fruit.
9 / Do Over
Intro: Three demons got together and they were trying to find ways to conquer the world. The 1st demon went throughout the world proclaiming, “There is not God!” Even though few people acted as if there was a God, they knew in their hearts that this message was not true. The 2nd demon announced, “There is no sin!” Again, although many people acted as if the message were true, they knew deep down that it wasn’t true. The 3rd demon was much smarter than the other 2. He didn’t attempt to change people’s beliefs. He made no attempt to argue against their deepest convictions, he simply said, “There is no hurry!” NO HURRY! NO NEED TO WORRY! There’s plenty of time.
I. I have some questions for you: 1) why does the executioner rub alcohol on the arm of a person about to receive a lethal injection? 2) Why do we call the time of day when traffic moves the slowest “rush hour?” 3) Why is freight moved by a boat called “CARgo while freight moved on wheels is called a “SHIPment?” Life is full of questions! “Why is there so much tragedy and suffering in the world?”
A. Vs. 1 – 2 Refer to an incident where Pilate had people killed while they were offering their sacrifices at the temple in Jerusalem. There is not reference to this anywhere accept here.
B. Deuteronomic theology had gained wide acceptance by the time of Jesus. It asserted that obedience to the Torah brought blessings; but, disobedience brought a curse. Many today believe that is going to church and living right bring blessings; but ignoring God and living in sin brings God’s punishment.
C. Some said that Katrina and Rita were God’s judgment on America: Katrina looked like an 8-week old fetus, so it was God’s judgment for allowing abortions. Others say New Orleans was hit so hard because of the sinful nature of its people. Are natural disasters like the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile sent by God as punishment? Are terrorist attacks and suicide bombers God’s punishment?
II. The belief that when God is angry, bad things happen still exists today. We joke about it when someone says something to which we believe God might take offense by saying, “I’m not sitting close to you. I don’t want to get hit when the lightening bolt comes through the window and zaps you.”
A. This kind of thinking is not new. Jesus knew the people believed the tragic massacre of Galileans mentioned in verses 1 & 2 was a direct result of some great sin they committed as was the tragedy of the fallen tower mentioned in verse 4.
B. Jesus acknowledges their sin but makes it clear that we cannot assume they were worse than others. In essence Jesus says in verses 3 & 5 “You need to change the way you think. You have no right to say that this calamity was a commentary on the lives of the Galileans or the 18 crushed at Siloam. These calamities are messages to you that if you don’t repent, you will perish like them.”
C. The people sat in self-righteousness think they had nothing to fear because they were “good people.” Therefore they were in no hurry to repent. There was no need to worry!
III. Jesus concludes his brief sermon with a story about a fig tree whose purpose is to bear fruit. --- Leaves and shade are no substitute for fruit.
A. According to OT laws, once fruit trees were mature enough to produce fruit, all fruit trees were given 3 years before the first harvest. The 4th year, the fruit was to be an offering to the Lord, set apart for rejoicing, for a celebration in the faith community.
B. The parable teaches us many things: 1) uselessness invites disaster, 2) nothing that only takes can survive, 3) because of the gardener’s intervention and actions the tree gets a 2nd chance.
C. This is the “DO-OVER” parable. Retake. Repent. Not a return to the law; but a response to the tender, loving care and nurture of the gardener, Christ Jesus.
Conclu: We would rather stand and wring our hands asking why? That accomplishes NOTHING! There is evil and suffering in the world. Bad things do happen to good people! The critical question for us is “What now? What are we going to do? How do the tragedies of our world change us, our lives and our witness?” We must bear fruit or we are in danger of being cut down! Where is our fruit? What are the tangible results of your faith in God?