Sermons

Summary: No one goes away from the Tree of Life hungry!

I want to tell you a fable.

Once there was a man who, while walking down a country lane, grew weary in his travel. Seeing that he was passing by an orchard of apple trees, he chose a particularly shady one in the middle of the orchard and lay down in the rich, green grass underneath to sleep.

After what seemed to him only a few minutes of dozing, he was rudely awakened when an apple fell from the tree, striking him on the head. As his mind cleared from slumber, he realized what had happened, and at the same moment noticed that he had grown hungry. Grateful for the ready food, he picked up the apple, leaned back against the tree and began to eat.

In the middle of his second bite of the crisp fruit, he noticed another man standing by the tree and looking up into its foliage. “Sir, what are you doing?” He asked.

Without taking his eyes off the branches above, the second man answered, “I am waiting for the tree to give me an apple.”

The man on the ground took another bite of his meal while pondering the answer he had received. Swallowing, he shrugged and said, “Sir, the branches are not high, why not just reach up and pick one?”

After a brief pause, and again without looking away from the limbs above him, the man answered, “I know that if I remain vigilant and patient, the tree will give its fruit.”

He did not appear anxious to talk further, so the first man went back to his apple and his own thoughts.

Presently, a third man came walking through the orchard with a steady and purposeful gait. The man on the ground watched him approach with interest, but the other man only continued looking up into the tree.

The third man strode directly to the same tree, uttered a polite grunt (the kind you might hear from someone not wishing to be rude, but also not willing to be distracted from his task), then he reached up to a low branch and picked an apple. He examined it, turning it in his hands for a moment, then with a nod of approval he picked a second apple, turned and began to walk away.

“Why the hurry sir?” asked the first fellow. “It’s such a pleasant afternoon; wouldn’t you like to sit in the shade with me while you eat your fruit?”

Without turning or even shortening his stride, the third man called back over his shoulder, “One apple is not for me. It is for my child. He is weakened by illness and unable to come to the tree himself. But I have heard that this tree produces the finest apples in the orchard, and I

know that if I bring him one it will give him nourishment and strength. I must be off to supply him. The second apple is for me to eat on the way. Good day to you sir.”

Swallowing the final bite of his own apple, the man on the ground lifted a hand to wave and said, “Good day, Sir”, but he doubted the retreating form was still close enough to hear.

After a moment more he decided to get on with his journey. He stood to go, but before moving on and not wanting to be rude himself, he turned to the second man to bid him farewell. Before he could open his mouth to speak however, he saw the man reach up into the tree and pluck a red, lush apple from a branch.

“Why sir,” he exclaimed, “I see you have chosen not to wait after all!”

Finally turning his gaze from the tree, the second man, polishing the apple on his garment, smiled and said, “I grew very hungry, and the more hungry I grew, the less willing I found myself to wait. Besides, I knew the tree wouldn’t mind. After all,” he continued after puffing a breath at his apple, “does not the tree bear fruit for the very purpose of feeding all who come to it?”

Thoughtful, the first man turned and headed back toward the road. As he left the tree line he looked back and saw the other man sitting contentedly in the shade of that wonderful tree partaking of its fruit; and even from that distance he thought he could see a wide smile of contentment on the stranger’s face.

In the eighth chapter of Luke’s gospel we see the accounts of three people touched by the Savior. Now, I cannot believe that the Holy Spirit has given us these stories at random or without very specific purpose. So today I want for us to see what He may be telling us about the way our Lord meets our needs. On the one hand He is the same toward all and unchanging. On the other, He can deal with each of us as individuals, and is neither challenged by the depth of our need nor slow about meeting it as some would count slowness.

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