Vine and Branches

Bible:

[Jesus said:] “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. 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. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:1-11 ESV

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-25 ESV

Reflection:

There was once a giant named Antaeus, who was the son of Gaea, the earth goddess. Antaeus was very strong, but his strength came from his mother. If he was separated from the earth, he lost all his strength. Antaeus used to make everyone who passed his way to wrestle with him, and he would always win these wrestling matches. But one day the mighty hero Heracles found out his secret, and when he passed by Antaeus and was challenged to a wrestling match, Heracles picked up Antaeus and held him above the earth. As soon as the giant was separated from his mother, he lost his strength, and Heracles was able to crush him to death.

This is only a story, but it’s a little like something Jesus said to his disciples. Jesus used a different picture, but he said that his disciples would have to stay connected with him, and that if they were separated from him, they wouldn’t be able to do anything. Jesus used the picture of a vine and its branches. First he said that he was the true vine. The prophets had often compared God’s people Israel with a vine, but Jesus was saying that he was the true Israel. That means that he was everything that God’s people had hoped for over the years, and that they needed to be connected with him to be God’s people. Then Jesus said that his followers were like branches. If they stayed connected to him, they would bear fruit. The Heavenly Father is the vinedresser who takes care of the vine and its branches. He helps vines that are attached to bear more fruit by pruning them, which means cutting them back so that they grow stronger, but branches that are separated from the vine are gathered and thrown into the fire.

God the Holy Spirit connects us to Jesus through faith, and he helps us to bear the fruit of following God’s commands. Sometimes he uses problems and troubles to make us stronger, and it’s kind of like when a gardener prunes back a tree or a bush so it will grow stronger and better. There is the scary picture of God’s judgment when we think about branches being separated from Jesus being thrown into the fire, but it’s a good reminder that we need to stay connected to Jesus. He died for us so that our sins could be forgiven, and he will take us to his heavenly kingdom someday.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to be our vine. Help us to stay connected to him as his branches always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Antaeus

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Peace I Leave With You

Bible:

[Jesus said:] “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:25-27 ESV

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7 ESV

Reflection:

In 1914 a terrible war broke out in Europe, in many ways the worst war the world had ever known. It lasted for four years, and nine million soldiers died, as well as 12 million people who weren’t soldiers. Many more soldiers were terribly wounded. Soldiers fought from trenches that they dug in the ground, sometimes knee deep in mud, and new weapons made the fighting even more deadly. But World War I, as it is now called, was sometimes called the war to end all wars. Many people hoped that when the war ended and peace came, it would be a peace that would last forever and put an end to the evil in the world that causes war. But instead, within 20 years there was another war, World War II, even more terrible and deadly. The peace of this world rarely lasts for very long, and sin and evil often dash our hopes that peace and goodness will win.

Jesus gave his disciples a wonderful promise. He promised to give them peace, and not the kind of peace that the world gives. The peace Jesus gives will last forever, and because of it Jesus says that our hearts don’t need to be troubled and we never have to be afraid. Jesus also gave another wonderful promise, the promise that the Heavenly Father would send his Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would give the disciples peace by reminding them of all the things that Jesus taught them and help them understand the things that Jesus said. So many times the disciples hadn’t understood what Jesus was trying to tell them, but when the Holy Spirit came to them, he would help them, and they would know what Jesus wanted them to understand.

We also have the gift of the Holy Spirit. He gives us peace by helping us understand what Jesus has done for us on the cross. Jesus died to pay for our sins, and because of this, our sins are forgiven and we have peace with our Heavenly Father. God’s love for us will never end, and the peace Jesus gives us is forever. God the Holy Spirit speaks to us through his word, the Bible, and helps us to know and love Jesus and to remember and understand everything he wants us to learn.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending us Jesus to win our peace, and the Holy Spirit to help us know and understand that peace. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Source:

https://www.npr.org/2011/08/11/138823855/the-human-toll-of-the-war-to-end-all-wars

Not Orphans

Bible:

[Jesus said:] “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” John 14:18-21 ESV

 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. I John 4:9-15 ESV

Reflection:

Alice’s mother was dead, and her father worked in a different city. He had arranged for Alice to stay with a woman named Mrs. Baker. Alice wasn’t happy in Mrs. Baker’s house, and she wanted to be with her father. One day her father got married again, and he and her new mother were coming to get Alice and bring her home to live with them always. But then something terrible happened. Alice’s father and new mother got into a car accident as they were driving to pick her up, and they were both killed. Alice was left as an orphan.

Jesus comforted his disciples and promised that he wouldn’t leave them as orphans. He knew that he was about to die on the cross, and he knew that his disciples would be afraid, when he died, that they had been left all alone. Jesus said that he would live, and that they would live because of him. The world wouldn’t see Jesus after his resurrection, but his disciples would see him. Jesus promised that he would always love them and be with them, and that their Heavenly Father would love them as well. God’s love would help them keep the commandments Jesus had given them.

Jesus died on the cross for all people, and everyone who believes in him has life because of him. Because Jesus rose again from the dead, our life with Jesus will go on forever. He sends us his Holy Spirit to help us keep his commandments, and he promises that he will be with us and love us always.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us and making us your children for Jesus sake. In His Name, Amen.

Source:

Murphy, Frances Salomon Runaway Alice New York: Scholastic Book Services, 1951.

Is It I?

Bible:

And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.” Matthew 26:21-25 ESV

One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it? Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night. John 13:23-30 ESV

Even my close friend in whom I trusted,
who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me. Psalm 41:9 ESV

Reflection:

One night, on a steamship carrying travelers to visit Egypt, a beautiful young bride named Linnet Doyle was murdered in her bed! Who had done it? Was it Jacqueline de Bellefort, the young woman who had been engaged to marry the man that Linnet had stolen from her? Was it Tim Allerton, who had snuck into her room that night to steal her pearls? Or maybe it was Andrew Pennington, a man who had stolen a lot of money from Linnet and was soon to be exposed for his crime. It could have been Cornelia Robson, because Cornelia’s father had been ruined by Linnet’s father in business. It could even have been a ship’s hand named Fleetwood, who had wanted to marry one of Linnet’s maids until Linnet had put a stop to it. There was so much secrecy and anger that the ship was full of fear and suspicion, but Hercule Poirot would find out who the true murderer was!

Something a little like that happened among Jesus’ disciples. As they were eating together, Jesus announced that one of them would betray him. This made all of them sad, and each one asked Jesus if he was the one. They all knew of their weakness and of their sinfulness, and were worried that they might do such a thing. Judas was the one who would betray Jesus, and Jesus knew it. He was warning Judas, one last time, of how terrible it would be for him if he betrayed Jesus, but Judas didn’t listen. When he asked, “Is it I?” Jesus replied, “You have said so,” which is like saying that Judas was admitting it himself. One disciple, John, was next to Jesus at the table, and Peter signaled John to ask Jesus which one of them it was. Jesus said it would be the person he gave a piece of bread to after he had dipped it. Then he gave the bread to Judas and told Judas to go and do what he had to do. Judas left the table, but not even John understood these clues. They all thought that Judas was going to take some money to buy some more food or to give a gift to the poor. But instead, Judas had let Satan take control of his heart. He turned away from Jesus forever and went out into the night.

We are all weak and sinful, and we sometimes fear that by our words or our actions we will turn away from Jesus and betray him. Jesus allowed Judas to betray him because he knew that it would lead to his death on the cross, and this would be the way he would bring sinful people back to himself. He loves us and sends us his Holy Spirit to help us stay strong and close to him. He sends us his word to warn us to turn away from our sins and to stay with him for the forgiveness he has won for us on the cross. We trust Jesus to keep us close to him, now and forever.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, please keep us as your own, and never let us turn away from you or betray you. Thank you for winning our forgiveness on the cross. Amen.

Source:

Christie, Agatha Death on the Nile London: Collins, 1937.

Believe in the Light

Bible:

So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” John 12:34-36 ESV

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. I John 1:5-7 ESV

Reflection:

Ebenezer Scrooge was a mean, selfish man who didn’t care about other people, only about making money. But one year on Christmas Eve three ghosts visited him during the night and showed him many things to make him understand what was important in life. The second ghost to visit him was the Ghost of Christmas Present. This ghost took Scrooge around the world and showed him how, when Christmas came, he as the spirit of Christmas went around visiting people who were sick in bed and making them a little more cheerful, people who were far from home and making them feel less homesick, people who were struggling and giving them hope, and people who were poor and making them feel rich. But as Scrooge traveled around the world, he noticed that the ghost looked older and older. Scrooge finally asked him why all of his hair had turned gray so quickly, and the ghost said that his life on the globe was very brief. Soon Christmas, and the Ghost of Christmas Present and the happiness he brought, would be gone.

This is only a story, but Jesus said something a little like that to the people around him. He had just told them that he would be lifted up to die on the cross, and they were confused. They thought that the Messiah, or the Christ, would last forever, and it didn’t seem possible that he would die. But Jesus knew that his time on earth was getting short, and that the time the people would have to see him as their light would soon end. He urged them to believe in him and become children of the light.

Jesus calls everyone to trust in him while they have a chance. We don’t know when he is returning again, and no one knows when they will die. We don’t have to be afraid of dying or of his final judgment, because Jesus went to the cross for us to pay for our sins and to make us children of the light. Whenever people hear the word of God, the light of Jesus shines for them, and the Holy Spirit works to give people faith in Jesus. We want to share the light of Jesus with other people as much as possible so that they will also become children of the light, now and always.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for being our light, and for making us children of the light. Amen.

Source:

Dickens, Charles A Christmas Carol London: Chapman and Hall, 1843

You Did It to Me

Bible:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:31-40 ESV

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord,
and he will repay him for his deed. Proverbs 19:17 ESV

Reflection:

Long ago, a young man named Martin was a soldier in the Roman army. One day he saw a poor beggar shivering in the cold, and he felt sorry for him and cut his cloak in half. He gave half of his cloak to the beggar to keep him warm. That night Martin dreamed that he saw Jesus covered with half of Martin’s cloak, and when he woke up, he found that his cloak was whole again. This miracle made Martin understand that when he had given half of his cloak to a poor beggar, he had actually given it to Jesus. Martin had been studying Christianity, and after this miracle he quickly finished his studies and was baptized into the Christian faith.

Martin of Tours was a real person, but we don’t know for sure if this story is true or not. What we do know is that Jesus said that when he comes again in glory as our judge, he would put people at his right hand who would enter into heaven. Jesus will tell them that every kind thing they did for even the least important people in the world was something they had really done for him. The people on his right wouldn’t always realize that their loving acts for people who were poor or hungry or sick or in prison were really things they had done for Jesus, but the truth is that the love Jesus had given them overflowed into loving acts for other people.

We shouldn’t think that being kind to others is what gets us into heaven. Jesus came to die on the cross for us, and he forgives us for the selfish and unloving ways we sometimes treat other people. God sends us his Holy Spirit to give us new hearts that love and serve others for Jesus’ sake. We don’t love others to make God love us, but instead we love others because we see in Jesus how much God loves us, and we are happy to share that love with the people who need it the most.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for your wonderful love for us. Help us to share that love with other people for your sake. Amen.

Source:

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Martin-of-Tours

The Ten Virgins

Bible:

[Jesus said:] “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” Matthew 25:1-13 ESV

Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Romans 13:11-12 ESV

Reflection:

I saw a very sad thing happen at the airport once. Many people were boarding a plane at the gate next to mine, and when everyone had gone through the door to the jetway, the flight attendants closed the door. Once that door is closed, it will not be opened again. There was a woman who wanted to go visit her mother, who was in the hospital, but she was late for the flight. When she got to the gate, the door was closed, and the gate agents wouldn’t open it for her. It was too late, and to open the door again was against the rules. The woman cried and pleaded, but she wasn’t allowed to get onto the plane. I felt very sad for her, and I hoped that she would be able to get on another plane soon.

Jesus told a very sad story about a wedding to teach us how important it is to be ready for his coming. In Jesus’ time, on the day of a wedding, the bride would wait at her home until the bridegroom came to bring her to his house. The bride’s friends and family, as well as some young women that we would call bridesmaids, would wait with the bride and go with her to the bridegroom’s house for the celebration. Everyone would carry lighted lamps to light the way to the bridegroom’s house. This bride had ten bridesmaids, but five of them didn’t bring any oil for their lamps. How foolish! That would be like a bridesmaid coming to a modern wedding and not bringing her dress! They tried to borrow oil from the other five, but the others said there wouldn’t be enough to share, and that they should go and buy some oil for themselves. While they were doing that, the bridegroom came, and everyone went to his house. When the five foolish bridesmaids came to the bridegroom’s house, they knocked on the door, but he wouldn’t let them in. They were too late.

Jesus is telling us that we need to be ready for him to come at any time, and to not be foolish like the five bridesmaids and think that there is plenty of time to get ready for him. When Jesus comes again, it will be too late to get ready. But Jesus loves us and wants to welcome us into the joy of his heavenly kingdom, so he’s done everything we need to make us ready. He died on the cross to pay the penalty for all our sins, and he rose again from the dead to defeat sin and evil. Everyone who trusts in what Jesus has done is ready for him to return. He sends us his Holy Spirit to brings us to faith in him, and to keep us in our faith until he comes again.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for doing everything to make us ready for you. Please help us trust in you, now and forever. Amen.

Outside and Inside

Bible:

[Jesus said:] “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matthew 23:25-28 ESV

Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Psalm 51:6-7 ESV

Reflection:

Once a little mouse came out of his hole and went to take his first look at the outside world. Before long he came running back into the hole, very frightened. His mother asked him what had scared him, and he told her that he had first seen seen a pretty animal with soft, striped fur and shining green eyes, that had waved her tale when she had seen him. But then he had seen a terrible monster with a red head and long claws that had shrieked, “Cock-a-doodle-doo!” The little mouse had been so frightened that he had rushed back into his hole. His mother told him that the terrible monster was only a rooster, and that the rooster wouldn’t hurt him because he only eats seeds, but the first creature he had seen was a cat, who would catch him and eat him if she could.

Something that looks good and harmless might actually be very dangerous. Jesus said that the religious leaders were like that. They often prayed in public and wore clothes that made them look very holy and righteous and did things everyone could see that seemed to be good. But Jesus said they were like cups that were clean on the outside but still dirty on the inside, or like graves that were whitewashed so that looked beautiful on the outside but inside were dirty and full of the bones of dead people. Inside the religious leaders were full of sin and rebellion against God.

We might try to make ourselves look good and righteous on the outside, but God can see into our hearts. He can see the sin and rebellion and hatefulness we all carry inside of us, and he isn’t interested in how good we look to others. The sins inside us separate us from God and his love, but Jesus came to die on the cross to pay for the sins of our hearts. Because of Jesus, God forgives us, and he sends us his Holy Spirit to give us new hearts that love and serve him.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, please forgive the sins of our hearts. Thank you for sending Jesus, our Savior. In His Name, Amen.

Two Sons

Bible:

[Jesus said:] “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him. Matthew 21:28-32 ESV

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. James 1:22-25 ESV

Reflection:

Kit knew two young men. One was William, who came to call on her every Saturday evening. This was the way young men and women got to know each other at that time. But when Kit was in trouble, and had to stand trial because some people thought she was a witch, William stayed away. He had said that he wanted to court her and to marry her, but his actions showed something different. Nat was the son of the captain of the ship that Kit had traveled on, and he sometimes got angry with Kit, or teased her, or fought with her. He never said that he cared about her, but at her trial Nat was there. His actions showed that he was the one who loved her.

Jesus told a similar story about two sons. One son said that he wouldn’t help his father. His father had asked him to work in the vineyard, but he said no. Later on he changed his mind and did what his father asked. The other son said that he would obey and help his father in the vineyard, but he didn’t do it. Jesus asked the religious leaders which son had obeyed his father, and they said that the first one had. Jesus said that the first son was like the people who had led sinful lives, but when John the Baptist came and told them to repent, they did. But the religious leader didn’t listen to John the Baptist, and even after they saw the changed lives of others who had repented and believed in the Savior John had pointed them to, the religious leaders still didn’t change their minds.

God isn’t interested in whether or not we say the right words or look as if we’re righteous and holy to others. He sees what’s in our hearts, and if we’re sorry for our sins and want to obey him. But no one is perfectly obedient or repentant, and that’s why we need Jesus to come and be our Savior. Jesus obeyed his Heavenly Father’s will perfectly for us, and he died to pay for all of our sins. Everyone who believes in Jesus has his forgiveness every day, and his Holy Spirit to give us new hearts that truly repent and want to obey God’s will.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for being our Savior and giving us new hearts and lives. Amen.

Source:

Speare, Elizabeth George The Witch of Blackbird Pond Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1958.

The Fig Tree

Bible:

In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once. Matthew 21:18-19 ESV

Were they ashamed when they committed abomination?
No, they were not at all ashamed;
they did not know how to blush.
Therefore they shall fall among the fallen;
when I punish them, they shall be overthrown,
says the Lord.
When I would gather them, declares the Lord,
there are no grapes on the vine,
nor figs on the fig tree;
even the leaves are withered,
and what I gave them has passed away from them. Jeremiah 8:12-13 ESV

Reflection:

A family went camping next to a rushing river, and the father wanted his children to understand that it would be dangerous for them to play too near the river or to try to swim in it. So he brought his children to the edge of the river and broke a branch off of a nearby tree. Then he threw the branch into the river, and they watched as the water quickly swept the branch away. The father said to his children, “That’s what would happen to you if you fell into the river or tried to swim in it.” He hoped that showing them an example from a tree branch would get their attention and teach them to stay safe.

Jesus did something similar with a fig tree. He wanted to eat some figs, but there weren’t any, so he spoke the word, and the fig tree withered. Jesus wasn’t really angry with the fig tree, but instead he was using the fig tree as a picture of the judgment that was coming to the people of Jerusalem and their city and their temple. Long ago the prophet Jeremiah had compared the people of Judah to a fig tree that didn’t have any fruit, and Jesus was making the same comparison. The people had turned away from God and not showed the fruits of living by faith in him. So the Lord was going to judge them for this. Jesus also showed God’s judgment against the temple by driving out the moneychangers and the people selling animals, and this was another picture of God’s anger. The time was running out for the people to repent and to turn to the Lord.

God loves all people, and he doesn’t want to come to anyone in anger or judgment. He sent his Son Jesus to be our Savior, and on the cross Jesus took all of God’s judgment and anger on himself. Because of this, all our sins are forgiven, and we are God’s people. He calls us to live by faith in him, and sends us his Holy Spirit to lead us to repentance every day. God works in us to help us produce the fruit of new lives lived in love to him and in service to others.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus, our Savior. Help us to live lives of repentance and faith. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.