June 24, 2017

Produce or Perish?

Luke 13:1-9

‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it.’

—  Luke 13:8

I planted blueberry bushes four or five years ago. The seller of the bushes said they should be producing well in three years, but so far we have enjoyed too few berries. More than once, I have been tempted to tear up those bushes and make room for other plants to use the space, soil, and sunlight.

Based on my limited experience, I might too quickly ­assume that limited resources and poor fruit production are the main issues in Jesus’ parable here. But that would miss the point.

Jesus tells this story to correct spiritual stupidity that runs deep in human thinking. Many people think that if something disastrous happens to someone, that person must have done something terribly sinful to deserve it. This secret and usually unspoken thought is drawn out by Jesus’ questions in the verses leading up to his parable.

All of us are sinners. We all need to repent or perish. By our produce—the fruits of humility and compassion—we will be known. Compassion is extended by the merciful gar­dener who cultivates and fer­tilizes us in such a way that we will either produce or perish. The clock is ticking. The heart of the gardener and owner is that we produce the fruits of humility and compassion.

Gracious God, together with all people I deserve your judgment for not producing the fruits of humility and compassion. Thank you, Jesus, for coming to rescue and nurture those who repent and follow you. Amen.

About the author — Don Byker

Don Byker has been a pastor since 1984 in various churches and institutional settings. Don and his wife, Donna, are the parents of four adult children, two of whom are married. Donna and Don are also the glad grandparents of three granddaughters. Currently Don is serving in a rural church in Michigan full of gardeners.

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