March 23 – Third Sunday in Lent
by Pastor Pete Scheele
Read Luke 13: 1- 9
Grace and peace to you as you let the passion of God be a part of your life, from God, our Father, our suffering Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Today all three of our Scripture reading talks about the vast difference between the ways and the concerns of the World compared to the ways and the concerns of God for each of us. In a way, you could say that it’s the difference between Passion Fruit and the fruit of Passion. God’s Passion for us produces the fruits of faith in our lives and they are Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control. That’s not the fruits of passion that we find in the world today or in the time of Jesus. In fact, ever since sin came into this world the fruits of the passion of the world are far from the Passion of God for us. The people of Jesus’ time wanted Him to be concerned about the wicked things that were going on in the world. That’s the same concern that the people of today are passionate about. All you have to do is turn on your radio, TV, computer or read a paper and you will hear all about the wickedness of this world. Jesus says to us as He said to the people of His time, “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Lk. 13:3)
What is Jesus telling the people of His time and us about our passion in this world? Well it’s about the Passion that produces the fruit instead of the fruit that produces our passion. Jesus explains this with the parable of a man who had a fig tree planted in his vineyard. It goes like this, “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ 8 And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. 9 Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’ (Lk. 13:6-9)
Like gardeners everywhere, God plants us with the expectation of a harvest and when there is none after a while He says that’s enough, you’re wasting all that I have given to you. When do you think God will have enough of our complaining about how bad we have messed up this world and then continue to mess it up even more because we want to do it our way, which is sinful and wrong? It’s really incredible that God has a passion for us at all and has strived to enable us to produce the fruits of faith by tilled up our lives here and there and adding a little fertilizer to help us to grow and mature in the way that we are supposed to and not just cut us down. But maybe that’s why the early missionaries into South America called the flower that they found growing on the vines of the jungle the Passion Flowers and not some other name.
Let me introduce you to a Passion flower if you have never seen one before. It is native flower of South America and Mexico, though there are some southern states in the United States that now have passion vines growing in their gardens. When if first blooms it is a passionate purple and that in itself may have caught the first missionary’s attention. But what is even more interesting is that when it blossoms there are three Stamens, that is styles and stigmas, and five Pistil, that is filaments and anthers. When the first missionaries noticed the stamens, they thought of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Trinity of God. When they saw that there were five pistils, they though to the five wounds that Jesus received on the cross of Calvary with the nails in his hands and feet and the spear thrust into his side. The missionaries that brought the passion of God to the people of South America saw all the glory of God’s passion in this flower and use it to tell the people of South America about the passion of God for them and how God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ into this world to suffer all the pains of this world by His passion of love for us. That passion took Him to the cross of Calvary to die for all our sins so that we could live in His love forever instead of having to suffer the pains of this world and what is even worse hell. The people of South America used the flower and the fruit of this plant for healing and food and that’s exactly what God wants to give to each of us by His passion for us.
Now what the missionaries didn’t know about the Passion Flower and the fruit was that it shows even more about God’s passion for us in the process of producing the fruit. In fact shows how the Trinity of God and the passion of Jesus Christ is working in our lives to bring us to produce the fruits of faith in this world.
Let me explain what I am talking about. Even though the Passion Flower has both the male and female parts for reproducing itself it cannot reproduce on its own, that is it is not self-pollinating. Even though each of the Passion flowers like other flowers have the pollen close to the anthers, yet in most cases they cannot pollinate themselves and must rely on bees and other insects to move the pollen from their stigmas to another Passion Flower and receive pollen from another Passion Flower to pollinate its anthers. This same system of producing fruits is also how we through the work of the Trinity of God in our lives and the passion of Christ produce fruits of faith in this world.
Let me first explain how the bee pollinates the passion flower as a parable to illustrate how God uses you and me to pollinate the world we live in with the pollen of God’s love in this world so that we can produce the fruits of faith. The bees are attracted to the nectar of the passion flower found at the base of the Stamens and Pistils, which means that they have to pass, by the stigmas and the anthers. The pollen of the stigma is passed from the stigma to the bee and then from the bee to the anthers. So, as the bee is moving from one passion flower to another they move the pollen of one passion flower to another passion flower. This is both a complicated and simple process that benefits both the flower and the bee. In most cases, it takes many bees to pollinate a passion flower to product fruit just like it takes many people with the love of God to enable each of us to produce the fruits of faith.
Though we are as busy as bees that are moving pollen from one flower to the next, gathering the nectar that they need to survive on. In our case, we are both the bee and the flower. God is using you and me to move the pollen we have received from God’s Word to someone else’s anthers to begin the process of producing the seed of faith to grow into the fruit of faith in this world. That’s right in most cases it takes more than just ourselves, even though we are at time as busy as bees to come in contact with God’s Word and to produce the fruit of faith which are Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control in our lives. In fact, in most cases it is going to take many busy bees coming in contact with us to enable us to produce the fruits of faith that God has planned for us to produce, much like the passion flower producing the passion fruit.
So, what does that mean for each of us as flowers of God’s passion, His LOVE for us? It means that we have to let God, the Holy Spirit, go to work in our lives through His Word and Sacraments in the church, God’s Garden, to help us become stronger in the living water of God’s Word and to be fertilized by His sacraments so we have the ability to produce the fruits of faith and the ability to share the pollen of God’s love in our lives with others so that they too can produce the fruits of faith in this world.
Let’s be honest, what is the real passion that all people are looking for in their lives? Isn’t it the Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control that God gives to us through His Word and Sacraments and NOT the hatred, sadness, war, anger, killing, dishonesty, hurtfulness and out of control world that we have now because of our sins. The only way that our world is going to change and come to know the passionate love that God has for each of us is through us. God’s passionate love, sent His Only Son into this world to take all our sins to the cross of Calvary to make the full and final payment for them so that we can produce the fruits of faith, His passion for us in this world. So, let the passion of God’s love for you flower with God’s passion in your live so that others can share God’s love with you and receive God’s love from you, so that you can produce the fruit of God’s passion for us out into this world and not the fruits of the sins that this world is suffering in. Amen.