Lent 3 – Series
24 March 2019
Let it alone this year also!
Collect for Lent 3 – O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy, be gracious to all who have gone astray from Your ways and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of Your Word; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.
God gives us time for living. How we use it is of crucial importance. For the present. And the future. That is why we need to take to heart Christ’s words: “Let it alone this year also!”
1. These words tell us of the Father’s patience.
A. He is patient.
1. He is willing to give man another chance. He wants him to become fruitful. He wants him to be productive. He wants him to repent. That’s the entire point of the parable. It explains grace, God’s big do-over. Your heavenly Father is the champion of second chances. He is not willing that any perish.
2. The Vine-dresser does not ask that the tree never be cut down.
a. The request is only for an extension of time. There is one more year before destruction. The Vine-dresser pleads with the landlord. He pleads that the fig tree be given a chance to live and be productive. He dares to save the fig tree when it’s wasting space. After all, it’s sitting in the middle of a vineyard. Don’t save it! Get rid of it! Yet, the Vine-dresser pleads for the fig tree. This again says something about the Savior. The Lord is in the business of saving those who are not really worth saving. An unproductive fig tree. Taking up valuable space in a vineyard for three years, should be cut- down and discarded. Yet, the Vine-dresser pleads with the landlord, “Give it one more year.” Jesus intercedes to the Father for you. Lent is a time to repent.
b. Despite the extension, there will finally be a time of reckoning. The justice of God however will be visited. His patience will not last forever. Judgment will come. The Vine-dresser was given only a year. We do not know if the fig tree produced any fruit. Did the extra fertilizer and water work? We do not know. If it did not work, we know what would happen next. The ax would be laid to the tree. Likewise, judgment will be visited upon unrepentant sinners. A useless, fruitless person will be cut down if there is no life in that person. Yes, that the Law. And it stings!
B. God’s patience with the unrepentant will sometime end.
1. We cannot sin with impunity. Excusing our failures. To prevent this damage from happening man must repent. God will save him from certain destruction. So we keep on. We proclaim and share the message of the cross.
2. The message of the Cross-— of death and resurrection — meets resistance from both inside and outside the Church (not to mention even within each of us) This message isn’t a nice message, it’s a foolish message, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” – 1 Corinthians 1:18
“Let it alone this year also” is a warning for us. We are in a probationary period. God’s patience has an end. There will come a time when He will say, “Cut it down.”
2. These words also tell us that God deeply desires our repentance.
A. God give opportunity to repent. Christ came not for first place finishers, winners, heroes, or living legends. He is for suffering and conflicted people. Christ became afflicted on His Cross, suffering our punishment that we may be set free from cheap-jack living to be children of God. He meets us in our suffering and conflicts not in the promise to take them away. He is simply always with us. In death. And in life.
B. God Himself makes repentance possible. “Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure.” (v.8)
1. With the Law - He digs – laying bare our sin.
2. With the Gospel - He fertilizes – strengthening our grasp on Jesus and producing the fruit of good deed.
3. Our life becomes a daily habit of repentance in which we confess our sin, trust in His mercy, and bear the fruit of good works. There is forgiveness, which comes from a loving Father who calls us to repentance. This gift of salvation is entirely the Father’s gift. Titus reminds us, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.” 3:5
“Let it alone this year also.” What comfort! God grants us time. For He deeply desires our repentance.
Now is the accepted time, to bring forth fruit of repentance. The hymn writer got it right when he wrote, “peace on earth and mercy mild God and sinners reconciled!” Jesus said it best “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life” – John 3.16
God is not some monster. Enthroned in the heavens heaving lightning bolts at naughty children and the dirties of this world –arresting those who get out of line for misbehaving. He is more serious about your sin then you could ever be.
He has devised a plan by which your sin has been dealt with finally. “But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive our adoption as sons.…” (Galatians 4:4-5) To receive the Savior’s gracious favor and to see the Father’s face is a gift given to us in grace worked for us at the blessed cross. There is, but one word for us to ponder – Repent!
Passive Sentences – 7%
-Schnorr Von Carolsfeld woodcuts, ‘The Crucifixion’© WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use-Collect for Lent 3, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis