During Lent, we are using short videos to share a daily idea (linked to the gospel of Luke) on how to grow spiritually. Watch today’s video. Click here or on the image below:
Note: We are reading the entire gospel of Luke in the GPS. Some day’s readings are longer than usual. We hope you’ll have an extra cup of coffee, or use your lunch break, and read Luke’s entire story of Jesus.
1 Some who were present on that occasion told Jesus about the Galileans whom Pilate had killed while they were offering sacrifices. 2 He replied, “Do you think the suffering of these Galileans proves that they were more sinful than all the other Galileans? 3 No, I tell you, but unless you change your hearts and lives, you will die just as they did. 4 What about those eighteen people who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them? Do you think that they were more guilty of wrongdoing than everyone else who lives in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you, but unless you change your hearts and lives, you will die just as they did.”
6 Jesus told this parable: “A man owned a fig tree planted in his vineyard. He came looking for fruit on it and found none. 7 He said to his gardener, ‘Look, I’ve come looking for fruit on this fig tree for the past three years, and I’ve never found any. Cut it down! Why should it continue depleting the soil’s nutrients?’ 8 The gardener responded, ‘Lord, give it one more year, and I will dig around it and give it fertilizer. 9 Maybe it will produce fruit next year; if not, then you can cut it down.’”
10 Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 A woman was there who had been disabled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and couldn’t stand up straight. 12 When he saw her, Jesus called her to him and said, “Woman, you are set free from your sickness.” 13 He placed his hands on her and she straightened up at once and praised God.
14 The synagogue leader, incensed that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, responded, “There are six days during which work is permitted. Come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath day.”
15 The Lord replied, “Hypocrites! Don’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from its stall and lead it out to get a drink? 16 Then isn’t it necessary that this woman, a daughter of Abraham, bound by Satan for eighteen long years, be set free from her bondage on the Sabbath day?” 17 When he said these things, all his opponents were put to shame, but all those in the crowd rejoiced at all the extraordinary things he was doing.
18 Jesus asked, “What is God’s kingdom like? To what can I compare it? 19 It’s like a mustard seed that someone took and planted in a garden. It grew and developed into a tree and the birds in the sky nested in its branches.”
20 Again he said, “To what can I compare God’s kingdom? 21 It’s like yeast, which a woman took and hid in a bushel of wheat flour until the yeast had worked its way through the whole.”
22 Jesus traveled through cities and villages, teaching and making his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone said to him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” Jesus said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow gate. Many, I tell you, will try to enter and won’t be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and shuts the door, then you will stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you are from.’ 26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 He will respond, ‘I don’t know you or where you are from. Go away from me, all you evildoers!’ [Psalm 6:9, Septuagint—the Greek translation of the Old Testament] 28 There will be weeping and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in God’s kingdom, but you yourselves will be thrown out. 29 People will come from east and west, north and south, and sit down to eat in God’s kingdom. 30 Look! Those who are last will be first and those who are first will be last.”
Speaking to the tragedy of Roman soldiers killing Galileans, Jesus rebutted the idea that bad things always showed God’s wrath. He told a strange parable, one that left hearers to think about how the story might end. He relieved a woman’s 18 years of suffering “at once,” but upset the synagogue leader by doing it on the Sabbath. He defied the spirit that loved rules above people and kept moving toward Jerusalem (verse 22).
Lord Jesus, you dig up the soil around me, water and fertilize, and watch eagerly for my life to show your fruit. Help me to respond so that my life may indeed bear fruit to your glory. Amen.
* Peterson, Eugene H. The Message Numbered Edition Hardback. Navpress. Kindle Edition.
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Last week my youngest daughter, Savannah, and I went on a college visit road trip. It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm and we had a great tour of campus. After the main tour we decided to wander into the nursing building (her intended major) for a look around. Before we knew it a professor and two senior nursing students had spent 45 minutes with us answering questions and giving us so much insight into the program, admissions process and providing some great advice. We were blown away by their generosity, so grateful they took so much time to talk to a prospective student who didn’t even have an appointment.
The encounter had me reflecting on other educators, coaches, church leaders and mentors who have gone out of their way to nurture and encourage both of my daughters over the years. After a few minutes I was overflowing with gratitude in the ways many adults have invested in my daughters--really seeing them for who they are, seeing their potential and taking the time to nurture and challenge them to grow and excel.
In the parable of the fig tree from today’s reading, the man who owned the fig tree came looking for fruit on the tree. When he found none after 3 years, he told the gardener to cut it down, finding it useless and a waste of good resources. But it’s the gardener in this unfinished parable that really resonated with me today. The gardener asked for one more year. Now, the gardener can’t MAKE the tree bear fruit, but he can dig around it, helping the water get down into the roots. He could prune trees around it to get more sunlight. He could provide fertilizer to get additional nutrients the tree wasn’t getting before.
Those are all things teachers, mentors, coaches, theater directors, neighbors and family have done for my daughters over the years by providing opportunities for them to express themselves, creating opportunities to stretch and grow and challenging them to take on hard things.
Teachers pour into their students, day in and day out, year after year. Teachers see each student and believe each has unique gifts and talents, believing they are worthy of their time to cultivate, prune and encourage toward higher learning and success.
Will you join me today in thanking someone who invested in you or invested in your kids? Is there someone you could encourage or nurture? Are you being called to bring hope to someone who feels cast aside or not worthy of the nurturing of the gardener?
Dear God, Thank you for our teachers and educators who work tirelessly to help their students succeed in their education and in life. Help me be an instrument of encouragement to others, open to where you may lead me.
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