February 28, 2016

Rev. Bernt P. Tweit

Old Testament Lesson; Exodus 3:1-8a

                                      Exodus 3:10-15

Epistle Lesson; 1 Corinthians 10:1-13

Sermon Text; Luke 13:1-9

The Word of God we look at for today is taken from Luke, chapter 13, looking at the first nine verses. In Jesus, our Savior's name;

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.'”

These are your words, Heavenly Father. Lead us in the way of truth. Your Word is truth.


What would you consider to be the worst tragedy that has happened in your community, during this past year? Would some of you be thinking about the very first homicide that took place here in Madison, back in January, when Caroline Nosal was allegedly put to death by someone she knew?

Would you maybe be thinking about the second homicide that took place here in Madison just this past week, as Christina Hatcher was allegedly put to death by somebody she knew? Certainly two great tragedies.

Maybe there is another tragedy you are thinking about.

Or, go back in time to September 11th, 2001. It was a great tragedy that happened on the soil of our nation.

As you think about those tragedies, does it ever come to your mind,
where you say, “This tragedy came upon that person”, or, “That tragedy came upon that group of people, because of some particular sin they had committed.” The answer is, “No”. Jesus rules that out pretty quickly. But, sometimes people wonder that. They wonder if a particular tragedy comes into somebody's life, “Is it because of a particular sin they have committed?”

You see, in our text for today, Jesus is talking about some recent tragedies that happened, when He was speaking to the group of people who were with Him.

Just backing up a few chapters to see the group of people Jesus was talking to. It says, “It was a crowd of many thousands that had gathered together, so that they were trampling on one another. Jesus began to first speak to His disciples.”

So imagine this. His disciples are there, and this group of many thousand people are there, as Jesus is teaching them, including our lesson for today. Jesus talks about two recent tragedies. One tragedy that was on the people's minds were some Galileans. They had come from the north, to Jerusalem in the south, probably to offer some sacrifices, during one of the festivals. While they were offering their sacrifices, Pilate had sent some Roman soldiers into the temple, and slaughtered some of those Galileans. Their human blood was mixed together with the blood of the sacrifices they were offering. That is sac religious. And, it was on the people's minds. Were these Galileans who were put to death worse sinners than the other Galileans who were not put to death?

Jesus emphatically says, “No.”

Then Jesus uses maybe a more recent example of the Tower of Siloam that had fallen. Now the tower of Siloam was a tower in Jerusalem. Apparently, 18 people died, when that tower fell on them. It was on the people's minds. Were these 18 people worse sinners than those who were not put to death?

Again, Jesus emphatically says, “No.”

But, at the end of each of those examples, Jesus says to the disciples, and Jesus says to the thousands of people who are standing there,

“Repent or you too will perish.”

So, is there a connection between tragic deaths, and punishment for sin? The answer is “No”.

Now, I am sure the people were thinking this, (and Jesus didn't answer their question), but it is the “Why question”. Sometimes we can ask the “Why question”. “Why did this happen to this person?” “Why did this happen to this group of people?”

Jesus didn't answer that question. There is a danger in associating somebody's punishment for sin for a particular sin they have committed, by saying, “This is divine retribution. This is godly retribution to that person.”

Rather the understanding that we should take away is,

“Repent, or you too will perish”.

You see, God's Law states in the book of Ezekiel,

“The soul that sins

is the one that will die.”

So, whether you are five or fourteen, twenty one or thirty five, forty four or fifty six, sixty five or eighty, or ninety three, “The soul that sins is the one that will die”.

We all are going to die, because of our sin. So, we should not think Caroline Nosal, or Christina Hatcher committed such a sin that they deserved the punishment they received. Rather, we should be thinking introspective, and thinking about ourselves, saying, “I need to repent of my sin, because I am a sinner.”

Probably most of us who are gathered here together for worship today, have been baptized. If you haven't been baptized, I encourage you to have a conversation with myself, or Pastor Bartels about baptism. The reason I bring that up is because Martin Luther connected baptism and repentance together, when he said,

“Such baptizing with water means

the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance

be drown and die of all sins and evil lusts

and that a New Man daily come forth and arise

who will live before God in righteousness and purity forever.

As it is written, St. Paul writes, Romans 6, verse 4

'We have been buried with Christ

by baptism into death.

In order that just as Christ was raised from the dead

through the glory of the Father,

even so, we also may walk in newness of life.'”

After giving the example of those two recent tragedies, Jesus tells a parable. It is the parable of the barren fig tree, in which Jesus talks about an owner who planted a tree in his vineyard. After three years he wanted to cut that tree down, because it wasn't bearing any fruit. But, it was the vinedresser who went to the owner and said, “Please give it one more year. I will nurture that tree. I will dig around it. I will fertilize it. We will see if it bears fruit. If not a year from now, then you can cut it down.”

The truth of the parable of the fig tree is this. For that tree, now was its time of grace. Now was the day of its grace. As the vine dresser wanted to give it one more year to bear fruit.

Now is the day of grace for us. God is the owner. Jesus is the vine dresser and we are the tree. Now is the day of grace that we are living in.

God's Word says,
“God is patient with you,

not wanting anyone to perish,

but everyone to come to repentance.”

However, that day of grace can run out, in our lives.

Here is the beautiful thing Jesus shares with us in His Word for today. These are the comforting words He said. Just as the vinedresser went to the owner on behalf of that tree, so it is, that Jesus has gone to God, the Father, on your behalf, and my behalf. Jesus is our mediator. Jesus is our intercessor. He is the 'go between' us and the Father. If we were to stand on our own, God would see us in the light of all of our sin. But, because Jesus stands between the Father and us, God no longer sees your sin, because the Father looks at what the Savior, Jesus, our Mediator has done for us.

Standing in that position between the Father and us, we see what the Son was willing to do. The Son was willing to sacrifice Himself. It was at the cross that Jesus gave up His life, bearing the weight of our sin so that now God the Father sees you, through Jesus, as if you had never sinned. All because we have a Savior. We have a Mediator who went to the Father on our behalf, not wanting us to perish but everyone to come to repentance.

And so, this morning I close with this question for you. In Jesus' parable, He used the example of a one year time frame, on behalf of that tree. “Give it one more year.” Jesus wasn't talking literally. He was talking figuratively. But, I will use it in a literal way. The Holy Spirit has brought you to faith to believe in Jesus, as your Savior. Jesus, our Savior, died on the cross to pay for our sin. God sees you through Christ, as if you had never sinned.

God wants us to bear fruit. He has given us the fruit of faith, and now God wants us to bear fruit. If you had only one more year to live, like that tree, what would you do? Maybe I will change that question up a little bit and ask,

“What fruit do you want to be producing

by this time next year?”

You know that the owner, who is God the Father, is patient with us. You know that the vinedresser, our Savior, Jesus, sacrificed His life by His death on the cross, for us. Now, we want to live a life that is pleasing to God, and a life in which we say, “God I want to bear more fruit for you!”

And so, during the course of this week, think about that question. Think about God in thanksgiving for what He has done for us, through His Son, Jesus. And pray:

“Help me to bear more fruit for You.”