Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Massacre, Disaster and a Fig tree

This was originally posted on March 21, 2011 after the Tsunami in Asia. Having lived through many different types of disasters and listening to diverse reasoning, I stumbled upon this passage in Luke. It is odd and seemingly disjointed when examined closely. As I stepped back and considered the context of the whole, a picture presented himself. Jesus again disarming arrogance and forcing listeners to look at themselves. 

Natural disasters create pause in all of us. The sight of carnage and complete loss causes our souls to ache. All ask why.  While some turn to action, participating in fundraisers and send help to ease the burden. Others sit back and look for blame. Many in Cultural Christianity explain it with a judgmental God.  Their logic is: if we were a better people, bad things would not happen.  

This really pisses me off. Instead of a God of order, he is made into a capricious and mysterious image.  It negates the very curse that began it all: the law we all live under. He doesn't will for tragedies to happen. They happen as a result of what was put into motion in the Garden.

In Genesis 3:17-19, God tells Adam that the very ground would be cursed because of the choice he and Eve made. In Romans 8:18-25 this curse upon our planet is explained further.  "… For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, (Adam) in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God... "

    In Luke 13:1-9, Jesus is told about a massacre in temple at Jerusalem.  Only Jews were allowed into the sacrificial areas.  In spite of this fact, the Roman governor, Pilate, sent soldiers into the Temple. An uprising ensued and many Jews were killed, some while they offered sacrifices. For the Israelites, the horror was immense.  Yet a division existed; upper class and lower class. The Judeans thought of themselves as cultured and cosmopolitan. They viewed Galileans-where Jesus was from- as provincial and simple
Jesus hears a hint of this arrogance from whoever is reporting the event. After listening, he poses a question,
“Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things?"  

I wonder if Jesus paused here and looked around into the faces of his listeners. 

He continues, " I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” 

Jesus continues to remind them of another recent tragedy. One that was accidental. A tower in Siloam fell and killed eighteen men in Jerusalem.

He asks them, “...Do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”   ”  

Many stop with this verse and unfortunately they miss out on what Jesus meant. Jesus then does what we love most, he tells a parable: It is about a fig tree.

The tale begins with a land owner talking to his groundskeeper. The land owner asked,
“Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none.  Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?”
The groundskeeper answers, “Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it.  And if it bears fruit, well.  But if not, after that you can cut it down.”


How does a fig tree figure into massacre and disaster? This passage of scripture can be ignored because it seems incongruous. Jesus was good at disarming his listeners and then addressing the heart of the matter. Getting the finger pointing to stop and for each one to look in the mirror of self.

Although circumstances vary, disaster and death are certain. Some are lost while others are spared, regardless of class, creed, social standing, criminal or law-abider. The consequences of a disaster are not based on personal worthiness.  It should never have arrogance attached. As Jesus sits, surrounded by listeners, he is challenging the survivors to examine their own existence. If Jesus called people on arrogance then, it surely grieves them now. Blaming disasters upon a group of people is egregious. 

The earth groans as we groan. Our discussions should not be about why the disaster happened or who caused it.  The response ought to be how. Am I living life as I should?  What changes do I need to make? Am I adding to the lives of people around me or am I just taking? 

When the next disaster comes, am I ready?

A Mother Life

1 comment:

  1. Ok I wasn't expecting such a thought provoking post. Now you've got me reflecting...Thanks for hooking up once again to the Hump Day Hook Up


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