Luke 14 & 15
(My apologies for sending out the wrong chapter yesterday. I was getting ahead of myself. So, here today we have the youth of Blood River Church with Luke 14 & 15 to help us get caught up.)
Luke Chapter 13
Jesus tells the following parable starting in verse 6 of Luke 13 – “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. 7 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?’
8 “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”
Some may think that this fig tree represents unbelievers, which would make sense as they would not be producing fruit. But I think Jesus is actually talking about believers here. The fig tree is seen throughout scripture as being connected to and representative of Israel, in both the Old and New Testament. In Mark 11:12-21, Jesus curses a fig tree that was not bearing fruit and it withers and dies.
The point here is that Jesus and his Heavenly Father are not satisfied if you have the knowledge of them and their sacrifice, and then only go to church on Sunday and stay awake during the sermon. That is not Kingdom living. That is not bearing fruit.
Back in chapter 10 of Luke, Jesus said the way to gain eternal life was to “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Is this love intended to be kept internal? Goodness, no. If you truly love God with ALL of your heart, then that should overflow. If you truly love your neighbor (simply others) as yourself, I think they would know.
What sort of things do you do to serve? What do you do to show the love of God to others? How do you use your God-given talents to honor Him? The answers to these questions are your fruit! If you can’t think of any way that you are bearing fruit in such ways, let the parable of the Fig Tree be a warning to you.
I know that DOING things sounds like Works, and we are told at times that it is Faith that saves. But I believe that Faith lived out leads to the works that bear fruit. In Matthew 7:21, Jesus says “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
So, I go back to where I started, in Chapter 7. The coming Kingdom is real! It will be amazing! It will last forever! You and everyone you know will want to be there. So do everything you can to spread that news, and encourage and bless believers and non-believers in the meantime as well. That is truly bearing the fruit which Jesus will be looking for.
Luke Chapter 12
So much in this chapter keeps pointing back to the Kingdom. It’s no accident. I have heard some Christians describe life as one big test. Are you going to live your life in a way that honors God, and thus reap the reward? Or are you going to live your life for yourself, and be judged accordingly?
4 “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.
8 “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. 9 But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God.
A young girl that was alleged to have been asked if she believed in God during the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, with the knowledge that answering in the affirmative could end her life, comes to mind when I read those last two passages. She said yes. Around the world today, people are still being put to death for refusing to deny their faith in Jesus Christ. What would you say in these same circumstances?
A bit later, worriers (like me) are advised and encouraged NOT to worry. Your Heavenly Father will provide what you need. You don’t need to be rich or famous, and in fact, those are huge detriments and distractions from your real purpose anyway. Don’t let the worries and distractions of this world, which have no impact on your future inheritance, get you off track. Verse 31 says, “But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” God WILL take care of your basic needs. I know there are plenty of things to worry about in this life, but much of our worry ends up having been completely needless. Even when you do have very serious things to be concerned about, remember that no one and no thing can take away your inheritance in the Kingdom. You need not worry about that.
Lastly we are encouraged to be vigilant, always ready to take ownership of the parcel designated as yours in the Kingdom, for we do not know the exact hour Jesus will return, or the exact hour that our time in this world will end. NOTHING in this temporary world is worth risking your place in the coming eternal world.