“6 And he told this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. 7 So he said to the gardener, ‘Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree and did not find any. Cut it down! Why should it even exhaust the soil?’ 8 But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, leave it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put manure on it. 9 And if indeed it produces fruit in the coming year, so much the better, but if not, you can cut it down.’” (Luke 13)
Disaster movies pretty much follow a formula. Establish an array of main characters by following their lives for a few minutes each. One of which will be our protagonist. Protagonist will be the only one who believes disaster is imminent. First half hour or so of movie will be protagonist trying to convince authorities, general populace and love interest that disaster is imminent while disaster gives everyone ominous hints and foreshadowings. The turning point of the movie, the hinge, the pivot is the disaster manifesting. Now that everyone believes what they see with their own eyes, the second half of the movie is them scrambling to survive the disaster’s effects with varying degrees of success or horrific failure. Despite the fact that they are rarely done well, they are perennially popular movies to make and I think I know why…
We are in a disaster movie.
Luke twelve and thirteen are a synopsis of this. Jesus, our Protagonist, is trying to warn everyone of what’s coming. He’s pointing to all the hints, the signs of imminent catastrophe that we’ve had along the way and are yet to come and by and large everyone is scratching their heads, tilting them to one side and concluding he’s a kook. And it’s so easy to sit back, scratch our well fed bellies and conclude that Jesus rose, the movie’s over and they’re all idiots. Here’s the problem with that…
We’re still only in the first act.
Jesus has not come back yet. The imminent catastrophe hasn’t hit. And that means we’re still in the first part of the movie. Jesus’ parable is about how we’re getting a second chance. He has come himself, the True Noah and done all that is necessary to save us, to build the Ark of Salvation so to speak, his own body, and now is the time to get on board. The great Day of the Lord is coming and no one knows how long He will delay.
“13 Now at the same time some had come to tell him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered and said to them, “Do you think that these Galileans were sinners worse than all the Galileans, because they suffered these things? 3 No, I tell you, but unless you repent you will all perish as well! 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them—do you think that they were sinners worse than all the people who live in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you, but unless you repent, you will all perish as well!” (Luke 13) The great philosopher Moffatt pointed out to me the other day that in our minds people fall into two Carlinian categories: Idiots and Fanatics. Anyone less spiritual than we are is an idiot. Anyone more spiritual than us is a fanatic.
But Jesus makes no such distinction. To him there are only sinners: sinners on the boat and sinners too proud to board. The rains won’t fall until all have had a chance to board but they will fall, make no mistake. God is pained by our behavior, God is hurt and grieved by us. We have no concept of how much! It is suffering for Him to withhold justice, it is suffering for him to see the weak starve, to see the young abused, the elderly ignored or shunted aside. It is suffering to Him to see his children kill each other, it is true agony when they don’t forgive one another, it is adultery when we deny Him as our husband, our lover, our God. And the worst of all is when we, the church, the ones already on the boat are the perpetrators! We who should know better still sin! He forgives us for Jesus’ sake alone! So we have no room to condemn anyone! For our sin is the worst of all! “45 But if that slave should say to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time to return,’ and he begins to beat the male slaves and the female slaves and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 the master of that slave will come on a day that he does not expect and at an hour that he does not know, and will cut him in two and assign his place with the unbelievers. 47 And that slave who knew the will of his master and did not prepare or do according to his will will be given a severe beating. 48 But the one who did not know and did things deserving blows will be given a light beating. And from everyone to whom much has been given, much will be demanded, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will ask him for even more.” (Luke 12) We hurt God every day and only His goodness and long suffering and strength allows Him to postpone the terrible Day when He steps in and cleanses the world of our wickedness. He is patient, He is longsuffering, Sodom and Gomorrah He would have spared for just ten righteous citizen’s sake. If there is fruit, He will delay.
But Jesus is saying, “40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not think he will come.” (Luke 12) This is no game. There are no idiots and fanatics, there is none good; there is none righteous, no not one. There are only those who deny, denounce and decry the Day coming and those who know their accuser is going to drag them before the Judge and they are doomed…