“ ‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. – Lk. 13:8 NIV
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Jesus had been informed of the slaughtering of some Galileans by Pilate, who had mixed their blood with some sacrifices he was offering – Lk. 13:1-3. Probably out of sounding a note of caution, for them to, rather count themselves lucky for not being victims of the suddenness of that kind of death, than seeing the action from a simple report of an unfortunate event, he let them realise that they were in no way better than those victims of Pilate who lost their lives in such circumstances, but were just enjoying Grace for being saved. Citing similar misfortune regarding the fall of the tower in Siloam on eighteen people, he reminded his listeners that those people were definitely not the greatest sinners in Jerusalem, warning that anyone who has witnessed a misfortune should always remember that he/she could have been a candidate of that misfortune as they are no less sinners or sin free – Lk. 11:4-5. It was all about Grace, Jesus Christ emphasised.
Today in every society all over the world, there is so much record of misfortunes. Planes falling from the skies, families perishing in one single case of vehicle accident, multiple deaths resulting from accident of different types, epidemics and pandemics all over the world with thousands becoming casualties and many more negative occurrences, yet you and probably your family members have not been involved in all those negatives. Jesus says that the only way the Christian should react to these events is;
1. To accept that he/she could have been the victim at those times.
2. That those who are victims should never be seen to be victims because of their sin as they are not greater sinners than those that escaped being victims.
Jesus was of the opinion that instead of people judging or reacting to the life experience of such people in a negative manner, they should use such events to remind themselves that dying in whatever form will come but they need to worry about perishing.
To perish will mean to die suddenly and probably in a violent manner. The suddenness of the death gives no opportunity to review one’s activities with the hope of changing what needs to be changed. When death comes in this manner, the victim faces judgement with no room for repentance. Jesus advised those listening to him to consider less, the manner of the death and think more about the suddenness which provides no room for repentance and thus leads to the perishing of the soul. Every time they witness such events and not involved as victims, they should consider such occasions as time extension opportunities for them, to work on yielding good fruits as death will not give any advance notice. It could have been them involved in that calamity, but grace extended to them gave them time to review their life activities.
He further buttressed this point with the parable of a man who planted a fig tree – Lk. 13:6-9. He had on several occasions within a three year period, gone searching for fruits on the tree and found nothing. He was thus convinced that the fig tree should be cut down as it was not meeting the purpose of its existence but was consuming nutrients. It took the intervention of the one who was caring for the fig tree, as relayed in the scripture for today’s devotion, who pleaded for more time to be used to water and fertilize it on the condition that if after this extra effort the fig tree still had no fruits, it can then be cut down.
The fig tree survived, not because it deserved to, but because the vine keeper pleaded on its behalf and even that was on condition that by the next scheduled visit, it will have fruits that can be useful. That you have not been cut down or put more directly, you are not dead, is because there is someone who pleaded for more time on your behalf, but you will not have this delay for ever. There will eventually come a time when you will have to be assessed based on your fruits and at that time, no pleading can save you from the consequence of being fruitless. Make good use of the time you have today and do not wait until tomorrow. It may by then have been too late. Pilate struck suddenly just as the tower of Siloam fell suddenly and the victims did not have the opportunity to repent. Repent today to avoid the perishing of your soul. Prepare well for the certainty of departure from this world. May God give us the Grace to bear good fruits in Jesus name. Amen.