SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- As the chapter opens, Jesus is asked if bad things, like the gruesome massacre of the Galileans, happened because they were evil. Jesus emphatically says no. Karma is not reality. Bad things happen because we live in a world that's messed up by sin, and we're all victims. He then reminds the listener that we will all face death and should be ready.
- Jesus also teaches that his followers are like a fig tree. After planting and fertilizing, the tree should bear fruit. But sometimes the tree takes several years to produce good fruit. So God, in his patience and mercy, will give us many chances to come to seek him. (See Galatians 5:22-23 for more on what "fruit" Jesus might be referring to.)
- Jesus heals a woman (again). However, he does this on the Sabbath, which was forbidden by religious law at the time. The religious leaders become very angry, but Jesus calls them out on their hypocrisy. He reminds them that even they offer their donkeys water on the Sabbath. So, how much more would God the father want to offer his children to be set free from Satan?
- Some of the Pharisees warn Jesus that Herod plans to kill him. He, once again, responds by predicting his death and resurrection.
- Jesus shares parables (stories) about the kingdom of God. He says that God's kingdom is like a mustard seed and yeast. A mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds you can plant. However, it grows fast and furious, and can take over any garden or field in a flash. Yeast is used in bread as a rising agent. It only takes a tiny pinch of yeast to work it's way through an entire loaf of bread.
- Jesus teaches that God does not cause bad things to happen to us. Some of us will live to 100, while others will die of disease before age 40. Neither outcome is a reflection of our faith or our sinfulness. We live in a broken world that ultimately ends in death for all. However, we can control the choices we make. He tells us that we need to repent and stay on the narrow path to God.
- The religious leaders implemented rules that kept people from God (see verses 10-17) but Jesus' mission was to help people come to God.
- Just as yeast and mustard seeds grow quickly and permeate everything around them, God should permeate everything we say and do.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Many people think that they are on the narrow path to God. It's easy to "like" Jesus, it's another thing to "follow" him. Are you bearing fruit like the fig tree? Are you consistently trying to share about the kingdom of God with others? Do you consistently choose to turn away from sin and toward God? Jesus says we must, or he will not recognize us on judgment day. So make that choice right now. Repent (turn away from sin) and determine to live your life for him today, and every day.
- Does your life help spread God's kingdom like a mustard seed? Do you desire to live for Jesus with your whole being? Can you honestly say that God's love permeates everything you do? If not, ask for God's help today. He wants to help you live a transformed life and help transform others.