Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Our reading from Luke 13:1-9 confronts us with an unpleasant reality. While we might want to get what we deserve, and hold out some hope that we would get something good, Jesus reflects upon some who were apparently killed while making sacrifice to God. He points out to his questioners that they themselves are no more righteous than those victims of what seems an unjust death. People die, whether of illness, accident, or violence. We cannot hope for better. This earthly life will come to an end, whether we like it or not.
That’s a sobering thought. All our righteousness, all our civic good, all our attempts at caring for ourselves will pass away, if we are looking only at this mortal life. The mortality rate for humans throughout history remains 100%. The Bible mentions a couple of people who were taken up to heaven without dying and one who was raised from the dead. Out of all human history, we are left with a 100% mortality rate.
Jesus gives us some hope in verses 6-9. He calls his people to hear him, to repent and believe. And then he gives a lesson about a man who has a fig tree. It isn’t productive. It should probably be cut down and thrown in the fire. But the vinedresser persuades the owner to leave it for another year in hopes of producing fruit. The tree will receive care and nourishment. Maybe it will produce.
In the end, we don’t find out whether the tree produces fruit or not. We don’t find out whether the people listeniing to Jesus repent or not. We don’t know any of that. But we do know that God’s call to us is crystal clear. He calls us to believe in him. He calls us to change our attitudes so that we are not in line for execution. He invites his people to receive not what they deserve, but the good they need.
The people who were killed are not greater sinners than we are. However, God graciously offers his forgiveness to all who believe. We’re all sinners, in need of forgiveness. In Christ we can receive that forgiveness, not by our righteous works, but by Jesus’ forgiving grace.
If this brief meditation was helpful to you, I hope you will check out the other materials on our website at www.WittenbergCoMo.com and consider supporting us.