How do we react to human disasters? Are they a punishment from God for rebellious, irresponsible behaviour – or are they a kind of random consequence of living in a ‘broken’, fallen world? Whilst accepting that ‘randomness’ is nothing more than a human confession of ignorance, and that true randomness is impossible for God, nevertheless, Jesus seems to favour the second explanation rather than the first one. “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no!” (v2). He goes on to make the point that it is more important to be in a right relationship with God than to have a ‘happy’ life on earth. Repentance is the key.
And time is not unlimited: just as the fig tree in the parable was given a finite time to produce fruit, we are also tested against our fruitfulness and subject to Christ’s judgment on our lives.
We learn two main things from the ‘healing on the Sabbath’ story: some physical illnesses are caused by demonic powers attacking our bodies – and so must be resolved by exorcism rather than conventional healing methods. Secondly, you are permitted to work on the Sabbath day if it is God’s work that you are doing!
The chief nature of the Kingdom of God is that is it continually expanding, infecting, and transforming. The change from a minute mustard seed into a giant tree is an inevitable function of time: the original seed contained everything that the tree had, except for water and time. It is a kind of heavenly ‘packet soup’! The yeast illustration reinforces this. Our default expectation should be for Kingdom growth all around us; if not, then find out why not!
“Make every effort to enter through the narrow door…” (v24). This is yet another warning from Jesus (explained also in Matthew 7) that the way to eternal life is precise and not quite as ‘inclusive’ as we would like. ‘Few find it’ – it says in Matthews’ gospel. If you consider the ‘great multitude’ of Revelation, it is clear that the ‘few’ means proportionally few – as compared to those who choose the wide, easy, and ‘inclusive’ doorway to destruction. And the narrow doorway doesn’t stay open indefinitely either, so in our discipling of others, we must disseminate that sense of urgency in those we are training up! Time is short! After that it will be too late!