Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Olivet Discourse

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio 

I found this really nice Easter Week Time Line that shows the many things that are documented about Jesus during that span of time. 

On Tuesday of Holy Week Jesus and the Disciples are out taking a walk and he finds a fig tree that has no fruit on it and he curses it because it was not ready for him with fruit when he passed by it. Later that day they walk back by that fig tree and it has withered. I look at that passage and I see it almost as a for shadowing. You have been planted in the good soil of the kingdom, you have been set free from the chains of sin. After Jesus has tended your life like a gardner for a period of time you should be bearing fruit. If you are not eventually you will come under has judgement. Not a popular message, it won't sell well to today's Christians who want to be pampered and entertained. I think we also have to look at in what it says to Israel. The fig tree is symbolic for Israel. Take a look at these two verses. "‘I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness, I saw your fathers as the first ripe in the fig tree in her first time" (Hosea 9:10). Jeremiah received the vision of two baskets of figs, which represented Israel: "Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah" (Jeremiah. 24:5). Jesus had been tending and working that garden for three and a half years." Israel was not ready when Jesus came to them. Even after he tends to them for three and a half years they are still not producing fruit. 

Luke 13:6-9

New International Version (NIV)
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down!Why should it use up the soil?’
“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”

I think Jesus has stopped by the garden for the last time and cut it down. It is still not producing fruit. He extends so much grace and mercy to all of us but I think there comes a point when he says "enough" this tree won't produce fruit, though given the best of care, cut it down. 

We look at that fig tree miracle and it is an odd one. It does not benefit anyone like feeding the multitudes, or healing the sick or even casting out demons. It is more of a sign for those who have ears to hear and eyes to see.

God's purpose for Israel was that she was to be a light to all the other nations of the world. She was to show them that the God of the universe has a better way. Israel struggled to be faithful to her God, let alone be a light that would shine brightly to the nations of the world. He sent prophets and they would stone them, and treat them poorly. Finally he sends his son and they choose to Crucify him rather than to follow him. 

Take a look at this story from Matthew 21
33 “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servantsto the tenants to collect his fruit.
35 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. 37 Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.
38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”
41 “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.” 

So no one wants a judgement message. We want happy Jesus loves me, He's got the whole world in his hand kind of stuff. As far as Israel is concerned I think that Jesus passed by that fig tree and withered it and it was a representation of him saying "rent the land to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.” At the crucifixion the church age began and we became those responsible for showing God's light and love to the world. I am not saying that God does not love Israel and may not have future purposes for her. She was not ready and was not fulfilling His purposes for her in the earth. 

I will rest my case using this story from Luke 14

The Parable of the Great Banquet

15 When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”
16 Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’
18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’
19 “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’
20 “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’
21 “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ 22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ 23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

Theres a lot of other stuff in the Olivet Discourse and it might be worthy your time to carefully consider some of the last lessons that Jesus taught during his earthly ministry. You find there the story of the Sheep and the Goats, The ten virgins, the bags of gold. In all three of those stories there is a line that is drawn in the sand, these were ready and these were not, these did my will and these did not. We have been saved and set free and we have been called, anointed and appointed as God's ambassadors. We have kingdom work to do. Have you buried the resources he gave you or are you using them and seeing them multiply. What are you doing for the least of these - thats what you are doing for Jesus. Do you have oil in your lamp - will you be ready? 

It is time we wake up!

Well I'm out of time for this post. There is a rich meal to be found in Matthew 24 and 25. I pray the Lord will speak to you and use this to help motivate you to get busy with his plans and purposes for your life. Your life is not your own it has been bought with a price.

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