We started our quiet time by me reading one of Jesus’ parables from Luke’s gospel. It was about a fig tree and I explained how parables have two meanings, a literal and secret meaning.
I thought I sold him on searching for the secret meaning after D mentioned another one of Jesus’ parables. The one on building your house on solid rock. Thank you, Bob and Larry, from Veggie Tales.
Then, after I read the parable of the fig tree to him, I reiterated the key point with a dramatic voice: how every time the owner inspected the fig tree for fruit…there was no fruit.
I planned to transition to talking about the fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5:22: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness.
I wanted him to inspect the fruit in his life, to think, perhaps, if his actions are loving and kind, but he had no interest in a story on a fig tree bearing no fruit, even one that had a secret meaning.
“I don’t care,” D said after I emphasized the tree had no fruit.
So I switched to a story with people. A short man who was a rich tax collector and climbed up a tree to see Jesus. Although he knew this story, I hoped to plumb its meaning in depth.
In his narrative, Luke tells us Jesus came to a tree in Jericho and saw a little man. He looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for today (emphasis mine) I must stay at your house.’
Jesus made eye contact, called him by his name, and invited himself to be a guest at his house. This must have been a surprise to Zacchaeus, but also a tremendous offense to the people.
And as Luke tells it, Zacchaeus hurried down and received Him gladly. And when the people saw it, they all began to grumble, sneering, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.’
Zacchaeus stopped and said to Jesus, ‘Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.’
Jesus declared, ‘Today (emphasis mine) salvation has come to this house because he, too, is a son of Abraham, for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.'”
Interestingly, I thought later, it was the same story as Jesus’ parable on the fig tree, a man bearing no fruit who had no recourse for his sins being forgiven…except through the saving grace of Jesus.
Honestly, I know we didn’t plumb the depth of this story. Sure, we tried. We discussed details and what they meant. But we fell short of this simple truth: Jesus came to seek and save the lost.