Jesus is on the offensive. Not mean-spirited, but mercifully. He’s warning: judgment is coming; be ready.
Through Luke 12 and into chapter 13 with one answer or parable after another he is extending mercy to his original hearers and to us today.
Listen in as Jesus tells a parable, an earthly story with a heavenly message, in Luke 13:6-9.
“A man had a fig tree that was planted in his vineyard. He came looking for fruit on it and found none. He told the vineyard worker, ‘Listen, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it even waste the soil? ’"
“But he replied to him, ‘Sir, leave it this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. Perhaps it will bear fruit next year, but if not, you can cut it down.’ ”
Don’t be too quick to see harsh judgment here. Don’t miss the merciful hope.
God is the owner. He says, they’ve had enough time to grow & do what they should do.
Jesus is the worker. He asks mercy for one more season. He pledges special attention. He offers hope before final judgment. An opportunity to produce fruit.
We are the tree. We have God’s standard as revealed in the Bible. We welcome Jesus’ mercy and assistance to bear the fruit of righteousness.
Don’t miss that penultimate phrase, however.
“But if not…”
If we don’t humble ourselves, don’t obey God’s Word, don’t follow Jesus’ lead, don’t respond to his mercy, then we will be cut down, judged by God.
Those three words—“but if not”—in this context of mercy extended before judgment befalls, lead me to a simple question: What causes your “if not”?
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