Advent Third Sunday Morning Prayer (12 December 2021) Luke 3:9 and 17
Updated: Dec 12, 2021
John the Baptist cautioned and prophesised about the second advent and the final judgement even before Jesus began His ministry. He was related to Jesus. He was the voice that cried in the wilderness according to the prophecy of Isaiah. Today’s meditation is based on our New Testament reading, the Gospel according to St. Luke chapter 3 verses 9 and 17. Verse 9 says, “And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire”. Verse 17 says, “Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable”. Both these verses are a caution about the second advent and the final judgement day. Some theologians say this caution was given to the Israelites before Jesus’s time and is not for the New Testament believers. But I believe these cautions are relevant to us also because Jesus also gave similar cautions in Luke 13, Matthew 13 and John 15. Let us meditate on these two cautions based on two parables that Jesus preached. We know that Jesus spoke to the people through parables. Parables are earthly stories with heavenly meaning.
In Luke 13:6–9, we read the parable of the fig tree which is very familiar to us. A certain man planted a fig tree in his vineyard. He waited for three years but he did not find any fruit in it. He told the gardener to cut the tree because it was using up the soil but did not bear fruit. But the gardener pleaded with the master and said “Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down”. We must understand the spiritual meaning of this parable to understand our Lord’s expectation on us.
Our Almighty Father who created the whole world is the certain man who owns the garden. Jesus is the gardener who took care of the fig tree. The Comforter Holy Spirit is the gardener who pleaded to the certain man. The world is the vineyard. Humans are the fig tree. The LORD God created the earth pure and sinless like a vineyard. He created the first humans Adam and Eve to bear fruit for Him. But the early sin filled the earth and separated humans from the presence of God. According to John 3:16, Jesus came to redeem humankind from sin. He came to prepare the people for kingdom of God. Like the gardener, He ministered for nearly three and a half years in this world. He preached about repentance and bearing fruits to inherit the kingdom of heaven. The people in darkness saw a great light through Jesus. But the people saw Jesus as a supernatural hero because of His miracles and healings. They did not accept Jesus as Messiah. Like the gardener who tended to the fig tree, Jesus ministered so the people would bear fruits. When Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, He saw a fig tree and looked for fruit. When He did not find even a single fruit, He cursed the tree. This was the symbolic representation of what would happen to the people if they did not bear fruit. Luke 3:9 cautions every tree that does not bear fruit: “the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire”.
Jesus also told many parables about the final judgement. The passage in Matthew 13:24–30 is another familiar passage. A man sowed good seeds in the field. When the men who were working in the field slept, the enemy came and sowed the tares among the wheat. Tares are an injurious weed that resemble corn when young. Both the good seeds and the weeds grew well. The men could not understand how weeds grew out of good seeds. They wanted to remove the weeds. But their master’s reply was different. He did not want to damage the wheat when clearing up the weeds. He wanted both the wheat and weeds to grow until the harvest. Then he would separate the weeds from the wheat and burn them.
Even today, the Word of God is sown in our hearts. But the devil sows weeds or false teachings that resemble good seed. Jesus cautioned us to watch and pray so we are not deceived. When we do not watch and pray, the false teachings influence us to be deceived and commit sin. In Luke 3:17 also we read the same caution: “Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable”.
Jesus sacrificed Himself as one time sacrifice for the remission of the sins of whole world. Jesus offered Himself to save us all from being tormented day and night in the lake of fire and brimstone. We are redeemed by His precious blood. When He rose again, He sent the comforter Holy Spirit to help us in our infirmities and to make intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered (Romans 8:26). The Holy Spirit was sent on the day of Pentecost. John 16:6 says the Holy Spirit was sent to “reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment”. Even today, the Almighty Father is expecting to see fruits in our lives. He is disappointed when He does not see the expected fruits in our lives.
When we meditate on this, the next question is: How can we bear fruits? John 15:4 answers this question: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” Jesus is the true vine and we are the branches. If we abide in Him and He in us, we will bring forth much fruit. We cannot bear fruit without Him. When we bear fruit, we are purged to bear even more fruit. The next verse also says that if we do not abide in Jesus, we, the branch, will be withered. We will be gathered and cast into the fire and burned. The spiritual meaning of being cast into fire refers to the ‘The Great White Throne Judgement’. We must abide in Jesus and bear fruit until the end.
Today is the third Advent Sunday. We are preparing to celebrate the first Advent of Jesus. Events around us and all over the world confirm that we are in the last days. At this time, we must remember that we are in the church age or the Age of Grace. The prophecies in the Bible are getting fulfilled. The prophecies about the second coming and the final judgement was given even before Jesus’ baptism. We don’t know when Jesus will come to receive the church as His bride.
Isaiah’s prophecy in chapter 5 is getting fulfilled. This prophecy was prophesised even before Jesus’ first Advent. We are the vineyard and God’s chosen people. Are we bearing good fruits? Will we be with Jesus if He comes to receive the church as His bride? Are we following the guidance of the Holy Spirit to walk in the path of righteousness? Are we listening to the still voice of the comforter to bear fruit? Are we abiding in Jesus? During the Great White Throne Judgement, Jesus will separate the unrighteous from righteousness. Sheep on right side and goats on the left side. Those on the right side will be like the wheat and those who have borne fruit for Him. Those on the left side will be like the weeds that deceived others. Those who bore fruits or the wheat will inherit eternal life in the kingdom of heaven. The weeds will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone. On that day, what will we hear from Jesus? Will we hear “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”? Or “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels”? The choice of abiding in Jesus and bearing much fruit or being a withered branch that needs to be cast into the fire is ours.
Revelation 22:20 says, “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly.” Like John, can we boldly say “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus”? This Advent, while we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus, are we ready to meet the Lord Jesus as the Judge? Only if we are ready and bear fruits for Him, Advent celebration will be a meaningful one.
May the LORD Jesus prepare us to abide in Him and bear fruits for Him. May the Holy Spirit guide us to inherit our eternal life in the kingdom of heaven and win many souls for the Kingdom of God. Amen!