Summary: Beginning of a series to revitalize the church through evangelism.
Introduction: In recent news this week, California announced that its snow pack has already melted. That means no fresh water from snowfall. California is experiencing a drought, as it has not in many years. Some may say it is because of the evil that goes on in California. They may say it is because the people of California are so sinful.
What about the flooding in Texas? Several people lost their lives yet Texas is in the Bible Belt. If California is suffering because of the sinful nature of its people, what does that say about Texas? Specifically, what does that say about the lives of people who were lost in the flooding in Texas?
Jesus faced a similar question in his day. People constantly tried to trap him with her questions. They brought him the story about a political situation at the Temple. He used this opportunity to clear up the misconceptions about judgment for specific sins. Jesus answered their questions with more questions. He wanted to press home the need for repentance.
I. Learning Lessons from Tragedy (VV. 1-5)
1. The people brought Jesus news about some Galileans that Pilate had killed.
a) Everyone loves a good story. Was this a sign? They wanted Jesus to interpret it.
b) The text indicates this was a specific group known to the audience.
c) Pilate had entered the courts where the Galileans were offering their sacrifice.
d) This was a horrible crime. Perhaps they thought God was going to intervene.
2. Jesus cut to the heart of their theology.
a) He introduced the second story. Pilate had taken money from the temple treasury to build an aqueduct.
b) These two stories are similar. One tragedy was caused by human event; the other was caused by natural event.
c) Their conclusion was that these people were worse sinners than they themselves were.
d) Jesus made it clear that not all tragedies are the result of divine judgment.
3. Jesus called everyone to repentance.
a) Jesus did not see these signs as specific judgments on specific people for specific sins.
b) He saw them as a sign of God’s judgment on all people.
“When the blind English poet John Milton was old and obscure, he was visited one day by Charles II, son of the king that the Puritans had beheaded. ‘Your blindness is a judgment from God for the part you took against my father,’ said the King. Milton replied, “If I’ve lost my site through God’s judgment, what can you say if your father who lost his head?’” (Wiersbe 224).
1. No one, including God’s children, is exempt from tragedy. Tragedy can strike at any time.
2. That does not mean that God does not love you. It does not mean that God is punishing you for some particular sin. Life is precarious. It can end at any time.
3. The best way to be ready is to repent, and be prepared to stand before God.
II. Judgment for Fruitlessness (VV. 6-9)
1. The fig tree often serves as a symbol for the nation of Israel.
2. Like the farmer, God expected to find fruit on his fig tree.
3. The farmer was patient for three years.
a) Three years was sufficient time.
b) The first year the tree can put down roots. The second year it could extend its branches.
c) The third year the tree did not produce fruit.
4. The farmer solution was to cut it down because it was wasting good soil.
5. The caregiver intervened. He asked for one more year, and more treatment.
a) The tree and the caregiver had to work together.
b) The tree had to respond to those acts, they would be in vain.
God intended Israel to be a productive vine in Isaiah 5:1-7. Verse 4, “What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it?”
1. This parable has an application to the nation of Israel as well as the individuals.
a) God is gracious and waited patiently for Israel to produce the fruits of repentance.
i) God waited three years during Christ’s ministry for the nation to produce fruit.
ii) He waited about 40 more years before the Temple was destroyed. He gave the people plenty of time to respond.
iii) Finally, he cut the tree down.
b) God is gracious and long-suffering toward all people. (2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”)
2. There must be fruits of repentance in the life of a believer (Acts 26:20, “but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.”).