Luke 13:1-9 MSG
About that time some people came up and told him about the Galileans Pilate had killed while they were at worship, mixing their blood with the blood of the sacrifices on the altar. Jesus responded, “Do you think those murdered Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans? Not at all. Unless you turn to God, you, too, will die. And those eighteen in Jerusalem the other day, the ones crushed and killed when the Tower of Siloam collapsed and fell on them, do you think they were worse citizens than all other Jerusalemites? Not at all. Unless you turn to God, you, too, will die.” Then he told them a story: “A man had an apple tree planted in his front yard. He came to it expecting to find apples, but there weren’t any. He said to his gardener, ‘What’s going on here? For three years now I’ve come to this tree expecting apples and not one apple have I found. Chop it down! Why waste good ground with it any longer?’ “The gardener said, ‘Let’s give it another year. I’ll dig around it and fertilize, and maybe it will produce next year; if it doesn’t, then chop it down.’”
For centuries, people have thought that bad things happened because of sin. It was assumed that illness, birth defects, mental health issues, accidents and death happened because the person or their family must have done something. However, we learn in Scripture that this is not necessarily how God works.
The God we worship and serve is One who continues to reach out to us in love and seeks for us to join with God in God's plan for the world. God has set in motion a plan to bring us all back to a life of following God's way and working together to fulfill the Kingdom of God. This means that going our own way is not how our Almighty God seeks for us to live. Instead, we are encouraged to participate in producing good fruit for God.
In today's Scripture, this parable of Jesus speaks about an apple tree. This apple tree was unique in that it had a beautiful shape, many green and healthy leaves, a strong trunk and appeared by the testimony of others perfect for bearing good fruit. However no fruit came. The man got so frustrated that he was ready to be done with this tree forever.
We are like this tree. There are times when we are so focused upon what we think life is about that we do not focus on what is important to God. We do not take time to reflect upon how to best live and follow Jesus. When we never turn our hearts over to God we continue in the old way of living where what we want is most important.
However, we have been given a second chance too. God has asked us how important following God's will is to each of us. When we realize that changing our focus actually brings healing and peace in our lives, then we begin to understand what hope looks like and feels like for each one of us. Turning to God means we will choose God first in our lives. May this Lent be a time of seeing God with new eyes and responding in love. May we be fruit-bearers for our Lord Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for showing us what following you looks like. Help us to see your call and respond in peace and love. May be continue to bear good fruit for and with abundance. Amen.
Rev. Laura C. Kelsey, Author
Rev. Kelsey is proud to pastor the First Presbyterian Church of Pontiac, MI. Together with the faithful and loving worshipping community at FPC. she enjoys sharing God's Word with others, working to help folks experience God's love and discern their direction in life, and lovingly reach out to the greater Pontiac community.