*In the Name of the Father…Amen.*
*The Gospel lesson serves as our sermon text for this morning.*
*Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God the Father through our Lord and
Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.*
*Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:*
*LSB 659:1 *
*Lord of our life and God of our salvation,*
*Star of our night and hope of ev’ry nation:*
*Hear and receive Your Church’s supplication, *
*Lord God Almighty. *
*Text: Public domain*
*Jesus declares at the end of today’s sermon text: *
*“* *Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree,
and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he
answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and
put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good’* *
(Luke 13:7–9). *
This is such a beautiful illustration of God’s patience with us for the
sake of Christ!
But do we recognize that God is patient, but never indulgent?
*Perhaps the following illustration might help:*
A teenager, just four days after he gets his license, gets a speeding
ticket. “I’m so sorry, Dad,” he says. “I just wasn’t paying attention.” Dad
talks about the importance of driving carefully, reminds him that tickets
raise insurance rates, and forgives him.
Two months later, the young driver rear-ends another car. In tears, he
phones his father.
Dad asks: “Is everybody okay? Nobody hurt?” “Everybody’s okay, Dad, but
both cars are a mess.”
Dad responds: “I’m just thankful everyone’s safe. We’ll work on this. Mom
and I forgive you.”
Freshman year in college. Underage drinking at a party, pulled over driving
back to the dorm. What will Dad do now?
*God is amazingly patient with us, but never indulgent. *
That’s because patience is an act of love for the other person, while
indulging someone else’s sin is usually indulging ourselves—not wanting to
offend the other person or not caring enough to correct the sin.
Indulging sin is not loving the other person, because, you see, unless the
sinner repents, at some point he will surely suffer punishment.
God is divinely patient with us, but he does not indulge our sin.
As Jesus says: *“If [the tree] should bear fruit next year, well and good;
but if not, you can cut it down” (13:9).*
*Turn toward Jesus, for in Him There Is Life.*
* I. Jesus calls not just the “greatest” sinners, but all of us to
*Some people in Jesus’ following have been “reading the newspapers”
(remember, this is old technology), and they ask him for his commentary on
one of the hot stories of the day (v 1).*
Several folks from Jesus’ own part of the country, Galileans, have been
murdered by Roman governor Pontius Pilate—in a gruesome way.
a. We don’t have further details about this incident from history, but
the social tension between Jews and Romans made revolutionary activity
possible at any time. Galileans were especially likely to revolt since they
were surrounded geographically by Gentiles.
b. What is clear is that they were killed while in worship—like a church
Essentially, the crowd wanted Jesus’ opinion: “Why do bad things happen to
Jesus turns the tables (verses 2–3).
a. He dismisses—doesn’t even address—the idea that this was a bad thing
happening to good Galileans.
b. He goes to the next option: Well, then, these Galileans must have been
especially bad sinners. No! All Galileans—and you and me—are bad, in need
4. Jesus even adds another example (verses 4–5).
a. There is no historical record of this incident either, the tower of
Siloam in Jerusalem falling on eighteen people. It must have been another
recent news story.
b. But again, no, these eighteen people were not especially wicked; they
were just like you and me! In sure and certain need of repentance!
*B. Jesus refuses to lean into a theology of glory by attributing human
tragedy to individual sin, as the Jews often did (John 9:1–3). Rather,
Jesus affirms that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory and are
thus in need of repentance.*
1. Every human tragedy is a call from God to repent. The world is
irreparably dirty due to sin. Our good deeds, in any attempt to clean up
our own sin, are as “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). Our rags are soiled beyond
any human ability to make them clean again.
2. Jesus always levels the playing field. He is basically saying, “It’s
just a matter of time before you all suffer the same fate. Death will come
for us all. No one gets out alive. Your only hope is repenting in faith.
Your only hope is turning away from your sin and turning to me.”
3. On May 21, 2021, six-year-old Aiden Leos’s mother was driving him to
kindergarten on the 55 Freeway in Southern California. After she became
angry at being cut off by another car—and made her anger visible—a
passenger in the other car fired a 9mm Glock pistol into her car. Aiden was
a. No one would suggest Aiden Leos was a worse sinner than countless
others on the freeway that morning.
b. As deeply as his mother might regret her own actions, no one would
suggest she any more earned such a tragic loss.
c. And there is no way to “get into the mind of God” to make sense of
why this happened. But God is not to blame. Rebellious mankind is to blame
for all manner of random loss of life, both through accidents and from
d. Every story of tragedy is a call to repentance and a moment in time
to cry out to God for redemption as only found in his Son, Jesus Christ.
* II. To all those who do repent, Jesus promises life.*
*A**. **That’s the subtle inference of the parable Jesus now tells his
hearers (verses 6–9).*
1. For years—even millennia—Israel had been God’s chosen people. He’s
been expecting fruit of righteousness in keeping with repentance and faith.
a. But instead, Israel had responded to his goodness with sin—just as
we, every single one of us, sin against God daily.
b. The time, it seems, has come to cut them down, to give us what we all
2. But the vinedresser, Christ Jesus, steps forward and pleads patience.
a. “Let me do everything I yet can for them, and if they repent, bear
fruit, well, that’s what we’ve always wanted.
b. “If they refuse to repent, then we shall cut them down.”
3. The primary point of the parable is to display God’s patience in not
wanting any person to perish, but to repent and find life in his Son.
a. The Christian life is to be daily repentance.
b. Sin’s consequences affect all people, so now is the time to repent
and to live lives which bear fruit.
4. Turn in faith toward Jesus, for in him there is life.
*B. Jesus says elsewhere, in John 15: “I am the vine; you are the
branches. . . . Every branch in me that does not bear fruit [the Father]
takes away, . . . and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and
burned.” But “whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much
fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. . . . As the branch cannot
bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless
you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. . . . Already you are
clean because of the word that I have spoken to you” (John 15:5a, 2, 6, 5b,
1. Jesus’ call to bear fruit is always an invitation to cling to him.
a. Jesus understands all the tragedies and death of our sinful world in
ways we never can.
b. He knows that we can’t bear fruit apart from him.
c. That’s precisely why Jesus hung on the cross, that we might bear
fruit and live, not be cut down and thrown into the fire.
2. Notice Jesus says we are already clean right now.
a. That’s because we each are connected to him through baptismal waters.
b. We are enabled to bear much fruit.
* III. Jesus teaches that repentance unto life bears real fruit**.*
*A. In turning to Jesus for new life, we are called to lead lives that
produce the fruit that’s really made by the power of the Holy Spirit:
“love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,
self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23).*
1. This *is* the kind of life *you* live.
2. Your fruit really is the work of Jesus. God doesn’t need our good
works. We’re connected to Jesus, the vine, to bear fruit for our neighbor,
that the world may know the Father sent his Son.
*B. By the new life we have in Jesus, we can even help to be a salve to
those who have suffered the inexplicable tragedies that result from sin.*
1. The very moving film *The Guys* came out just a year after 9/11. In
it, Sigourney Weaver is asked by a New York fire captain to help write
eulogies for the eight men his unit lost in the attack.
a. One of the heroes, Patrick, was a guy everybody looked up to, wanted
to follow. He had just casually chosen to work that morning shift, rather
than the evening. He died when Tower One of the World Trade Center fell on
b. His eulogy noted how others at the firehouse described him: “work,
church, and home.”
2. We who have life in Jesus, who are no greater sinners, no lesser
sinners than anyone else, will suffer death as surely, tragedy as often, as
3. But we can use our lives in Jesus to witness God’s incomprehensible
love to others in their tragedies.
*The tragedy of our text is that Jesus’ hearers were pridefully trying to
position themselves as “better than” those who lost their lives in random
ways. We are called to bear fruit in keeping with repentance. Yet, even the
good fruit we bear is not enough to make us righteous before God. The
faithful pastor on his deathbed, the seemingly innocent child, the grieving
mother, the brave hero all need to repent; we are all sinners deserving
only to be cut down.*
*Jesus is the tree that was cut down by his Father on a Roman cross,
unjustly condemned by Pilate. Jesus is the tree that the Father
victoriously raised three days later to invite us, as Gentiles, to be
grafted into that Holy Tree. Our repentance is only possible because of our
redemption accomplished by the crucified and risen Jesus. Turn in faith
toward Jesus, for in him there is life. Amen.*
*Let us pray:*
*LSB 659:3 *
*Lord, be our light when worldly darkness veils us;*
*Lord, be our shield when earthly armor fails us;*
*And in the day when hell itself assails us, *
*Grant us Your peace, Lord:*
*Text: Public domain*
*The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and
minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.*
*In the Name of the Father…Amen.*