Fig Tree Sermon

March 24, 2019

Summary

The older that I’ve become the more I see the importance of eating right.  It just doesn’t do me any good to be stopping off at a fast-food restaurant for a burger and fries, when if I planned ahead a little I could have packed myself a sandwich with some veggies on the side.  Now, I am not saying that I never do swing into McDonald’s or Burger King, ‘cause I am sure one of you will catch me standing in line one of these days.  What I am saying is that for my proper health and to maintain good energy I need to eat foods that are good for me in the short, and long term.

In the same way I need to continue to attempt to get regular exercise, something more than simply walking to church, the tram, or the store.  A person should be getting 30 minutes a day of sustained movement. Thirty minutes keeps one’s heart rate up and steady and does wonders for the heart’s health.

A person should also get a good night’s sleep, laugh often, decrease stress in their life, have meaningful relationships and strive for a spiritually centered life.

All of these things help foster health and give a person the ability to produce results in their work and lead a fruitful life.

In today’s gospel text from Luke, Jesus shares a parable concerning a fig tree.  The owner of the vineyard in which the tree was planted had been hoping each year for the tree to produce some fruit.  That’s what the tree was there for, he hadn’t planted it to be decorative or simply for shade, it was there to accomplish its task in life, to produce figs.  But it was a failure, for three years, nothing.  So he figured it was time to cut it down and make room for another tree.  But the vineyard worker wanted to give the tree one more chance, one more year to try and produce some fruit.  And the worker even volunteered to give the tree some extra attention to help it to produce and be fruitful.

This parable, I believe is all about Jesus and humanity, Jesus and the world.

I read it as such, God created the world and with it humanity.  Over the eons God has given humanity the opportunity and chances not only to grow, but to live up to its potential, but time and time again humanity has failed.  We just couldn’t live up to God’s expectations of whom he created us to be.  So, God was ready to end it all, to finally stop waiting and hoping for humans to become fruitful.  But Jesus said, “Wait!”  Give me a chance to make a difference, let

me tend to humanity even more closely and in a new way and see if I can’t make a difference.”

In Jesus’ life here on earth, when he lived as a human he had the chance as the vineyard worker said in the parable, to, “…dig around it and fertilize it.”

Jesus came to know what it means to be a human by experiencing the joys and tribulations, the hardship and happiness, and all the while he preached to the people, and he taught the people of God, his love, and his desire for us. Jesus preached in a way that prepared his listeners to receive the fertilizer, the nourishment that they needed.

That fertilizer, that nourishment was, is, Jesus himself.  His death upon the cross in our place, for our sins and our evil, his body in the ground instead of ours, gives us the nourishment that we need to not only continue to grow, but to bear fruit in our lives.

Think of it this way.  How many of you have ever put a dead fish in the soil of your garden to replenish the nutrients so that your tomatoes, or peas or squash might grow?  Or if not you, maybe you remember your mother or grandfather speaking of such a practice.  That dead fish was the fertilizer that spurred the growth of the garden.  In its death, its body gave life.

Now I don’t necessarily want us to be equating Jesus with a dead fish, but if it’s helpful in your understanding of how we bear fruit, I don’t think Jesus would mind the image.  He is our sustenance, our food, he is the nutrients that we need to live and to bear Godly fruit in our lives.

It is only by his death that we may have life.  In other words his death directly translates into our life.

But our dependence upon Jesus is born out in other ways as well.

If we do not draw spiritual nourishment through our relationship with the Lord, we are weakened by spiritual thirst.  Without the speaking and listening that comes by prayer and quiet meditation we become dry in our faith.  Like a tree in a drought we do not have the strength to stand strong in the mighty winds or the scorching days of sun that are life in the world.  We need the sweet water that is our relationship with God.  We need the water that comes in prayer, drawn up through our roots from the fertile soil of God’s love.  The sweet water that fills us when; we thank our God for life and for the people in it, when we seek mercy for ourselves or another, when we plead for healing for a fragile and mortal body or when we praise God’s power and mercy.

We need to feed upon the scriptures, to draw the wisdom and the truth that only comes from the word of God, into our lives.  Like a thirsty tree needs the weekly spring rains, we need the weekly feeding of worship and a sermon and the nourishment that is Holy Communion to have the strength to not only live, but to thrive and bear fruit.  We need these things that connect us with our Lord.  Some connect us intellectually, some relationally and some in deeply spiritual ways.

We cannot expect to have fruitful lives in our faith, if we are never fed or nourished in prayer, by scripture or within the communal life of worship and the church.  Each of us must find the times, the places and the motivation in our lives to be spiritually fed.

Last week, we the church, presented the third graders with God’s word, with the Holy Bible.  In doing that, we are giving each of them the opportunity, to read each day, and so be nourished.  Each of them can read of God and his relationship with the people of the world.  Each of them may read the stories of Jesus, the disciples and the people whom he fed, healed, and taught.  Each of them may learn, ask questions, and grow in their understanding of God, and his love for the world, and for them.

And by being fed daily by reading the Bible, their lives may become more fruitful, more exciting.

Each of us need to ask ourselves a question, “How, when and from whom am I fed?” Do I, or can I, start to find a time and a place in which to read God’s word and ponder upon it?  When and where might be the best time for quiet prayer?  How might I connect more deeply with the Lord as well as my fellow Christians?  Do I look for God’s presence in each day?

Then we must ask, “In what ways are we fruitful in our lives and the lives of others?”

Do I reach out of my comfort zone to show care and love for others?  Do I set aside my needs to help with the needs of others?  Can God’s teachings, when lived out in my life, change anything or affect another person’s life in a meaningful way?  Does my relationship with Jesus affect my life?

These can all be hard and even difficult questions, but I encourage you to ask them and then think hard upon the answers.  May God lead you and go with you each day

of your life.

Amen.

Bible References

  • Isaiah 55:1 - 9
  • Luke 13:1 - 9

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