Fruit in Keeping with Repentance
Fruit in Keeping with Repentance
Words of Faith 9-18-18
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.  Jesus answered, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way?  I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.  Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them-- do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem?  I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish."
 Then he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any.  So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, 'For three years now I've been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven't found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?'
 " 'Sir,' the man replied, 'leave it alone for one more year, and I'll dig around it and fertilize it.  If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.' "
The question of the day was not, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" The question was, "What sort of sin must those people have done in order to have such tragedy befall them?" For those who were seeking to assign a level of sinfulness to others who had experienced tragedy, Jesus made it clear. Do you really think that some are more guilty than others? I tell you no. The truth is that all have sinned, and you need to repent. Getting lost in that sort of speculation will cause you to miss the real point. Unless you repent, you too will all perish.
Jesus now made His point a little differently. He told a parable. A man had a fig tree but it did not have any fruit for three years. He said to the caretaker: Cut it down! But the caretaker bought a little more time for the tree. Leave it alone for one more year, and I'll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.
This message was clear, again. God had been patient. He came looking for "fruit in keeping with repentance" (Luke 3:8-9). Now three years had passed. Jesus was saying: This is your last chance. Jesus was the caretaker of the tree. He had negotiated a little more time. God was not looking for speculation regarding the sin of others. He was looking contemplation of our own sin and relationship to Him. When God returns, the tree that has no fruit will be cut down.
These days we also debate the latest tragedies and catastrophes. We try to make some sense of what goes on. But rather than blame the person we usually look for someone else to blame. Instead of being a society of confessed sinners we tend to be a society of victims but the the result is the same. We get distracted from the real issue. We get a little lost while figuring out who is to blame for a recent crisis and we miss the looming issue of our own sin. That is what Jesus was trying to communicate. The other big issues will fade. We can hardly track down the details of the tragedies they were consumed with in the time of Jesus.
What are the tragedies and calamities of our day? Well, a terrorist is on trial and we are very sure of his sinfulness. That was huge calamity. A deposed dictator is on trial for war crimes and he is absolutely despicable. No doubt about that. There have been two terrible cyclones in Australia and one more may be on the way. What did they do to deserve that? Someone must be to blame. And how about that bird flu? Who is responsible for that one?
It's all a distraction from the real issue. In the big scheme of things comparative guilt is irrelevant, the blame game gets us nowhere, and storms are unpredictable. The only relevant question is when will Jesus come back and will we be ready.
When we become preoccupied with figuring out the sin of others and assigning blame we never deal adequately and completely with our own sin. Way back in Galilee, at the early time of ministry, Jesus said: "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye (Luke 6:41-42).
People murdered in worship? A terrible sin. A tower falls on people in a tragic accident? Who is at fault? Jesus threw out the whole line of thinking. Do you really some are more lost than others? You are kidding yourself. Repent. The owner of the vineyard is looking for fruit. John the Baptist said that this fruit was "in keeping with repentance.” Jesus has bought a little extra time but the owner is coming to find fruit.
The truth of the matter? Nations do not repent. People repent. Nations come to repentance one soul at a time. One great conspiracy of the enemy is to distract us from our sin so that we avoid repentance. They all distract us from the real issue and the only issue that I can deal with. Me. My sin. As long as we are all self righteously assigning blame to others a nation will never come to repentance.
Where are you today? Have you been heatedly debating the sins of others while failing to deal with your own. Have you been distracted by the latest tragedy or calamity? To repent means to have a "change of heart" and set out in a different direction, toward God.
Lord God, I pray for all the sinful situations of the world. I pray for all the sinners in the world of which I am the greatest. O God, turn my heart toward You. In Jesus' name.