Thursday, June 14, 2012

120614 - Luke 13-14 - The Fruit of Repentance

Thursday SOAP: Jesus has every right to chop down a tree that isn't bearing His fruit. Does it happen right away, or does it take a while? Several hints in the Gospels coalesce in the two chapters of my devotional reading for today.


S: 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 round it and fertilise it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’” (Luke 13:5-9).

So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. (Lu 14:33).

Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. (Lu 3:8).

O: During this year's study of the book of Luke with my online study group, I came to see this parable, John the Baptist's ministry to prepare Israel, Christ's cursing of the Fig tree before cleansing the Temple the second time, (Matthew 21:18-22, Mark 11:12-19), and His prediction about the Fig Tree Generation in Luke 21:29-32 as all talking about the same thing. This fruit of repentance.

A: When God's requirement of love (Deut. 6:5; Lev. 19:18) is really understood on some level, we can respond in a number of different ways; but they all boil down to two. One of the most often denied, yet most readily verifiable confirmations of the Bible is that the standard of love described therein is impossible for me as I exist in my natural state. I can either pretend, or I can repent - but I can't hit the required mark. Repentance, it turns out, is the fruit that Jesus is looking for. It was John the Baptist's opening words (Matthew 3:2), it was the message of his preaching (Isaiah 40:3-8), and it was the response illustrated by his baptism. (Matthew 3:11, Mark 1:4, Luke 3:3, Acts 13:24, 19:4)

Real love for God is expressed in worship, in both senses of the New Testament words: homage, as well as service. True worship can only begin with repentance. When Christ came the first time in John 2:13-17 and found no fruit, he purged the Temple, but then left it alone. Three years later, he returned to once again find the appearance of fruit, but still no real fruit. (Matt. 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46)

As Christ predicted, the stones they were so proud of were all taken apart when General Titus (who himself claimed to be the instrument of God's wrath) sacked Jerusalem.

I think the challenge for me in ministry is not just am I living a repentant life - but does what I am doing result in the repentance of others? Is there that kind of fruit? If not, it's all just pretty leaves, isn't it?

P: Lord thank you for this clarity. Help me have desire, vision, courage and diligence to relentlessly pursue this fruit in my own life and the lives of those whom I serve.

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