And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.”
There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘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; but if not, you can cut it down.’”
Comment: In your Bible, depending on your translation version, if you look at each of these three paragraphs they have a title above them. Those titles are not in the original, so I have removed them here, and I think the three are in a sense a unity describing different aspects of judgement on the eternal scene. In summary let us look at them individually.
- This is a parable and makes sense, if you are in the wrong, try and sort things out. But a parable has a deeper meaning also – in that sense God is the accuser, and the warning is to make sure where you/I stand in relation to debts to Him. No matter how convenient it is to say that God is a figment of man’s imagination, Jesus in His teaching and by His life, death and Resurrection is strong evidence for God being real. Besides God explains creation. In other places the Bible (Rom ch 1) claims God is the explanation of creation and the Creator.
- Pilate had committed murder but was it really God behind their deaths? That was the question put to Jesus. His answer was in some ways evasive but absolutely correct in emphasising that we are all sinners. It seems to me that the essence of His answer was all are guilty before God; repentance is a universal need – for you and me also.
- In our dealings with God not only is there the aspect of doing wrong (which needs repentance), but we are held responsible for not doing right. In His patience God waits for us to be productive (character-wise) but not for ever, the fig tree is given a time limit. In many churches we ask for forgiveness in the confession prayers of sins of both doing and failing to do right; that is errors of omission and of commission. But it is the heart attitude not the mouthed words that matter!
Prayer: May I be right with You, O God.