October 17

October 17

Jesus’ Teachings on Israel — Parable of the Fig Tree (i.e. Israel) & healing a crippled woman.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Luke 13:6-35

Reading 2: Mark 11:12-14

Reading 3: Hosea 9:10

As Jesus’ first earthly life moves toward its conclusion, we see more clearly the contrast between God’s intent for humanity (to live in loving relationship with Him) and religion’s fruitless parody of God’s plan.

The fig tree is a symbol of Israel – such potential, wasted by self-willed disobedience. In Hosea 9, the reference to Baal-Peor comes from Numbers 25 where Israel willfully turned away from God. The story of the fig tree in Luke 13 shows us God’s assessment of Israel at this moment in their history. Jesus has been publicly visible as the Messiah for three years, but there is no fruit of faith in the nation’s leaders. The gardener (who some consider to represent Jesus) says “let me dig around and fertilize, and we’ll see what another year brings.” We know the result of that – the nation did not bear fruit, but the extra year brought the crucifixion, the resurrection, and the birth of the Church through the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. There was fruit, but the fruit was rejected by Israel’s religious leaders, and the nation was destroyed again (by the Romans).

The stakes are getting higher for Jesus’ hearers, and Jesus knows it. He sounds increasingly determined to speak the truth clearly, and to face the inevitable show-down when the authorities will not hear Him. There are many parallels for us in our society, and we would do well to remember the example of Jesus. As the authorities found His obedience to God distasteful, He continued to obey fully. When they rejected Him, He submitted to their (inferior) authority. When they killed Him, God won the victory.

Jesus is victorious forever, and today, if you are in Him, the same is true of you (whatever you face).

Have a great day!