Saturday, March 19
Reader: “What you say”
Response: “flows from what is in your heart.”
Scripture: Luke 6:43-45
“A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thornbushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.
The season of Lent is a time of examining our hearts as we look to the heart of Jesus as he prepares for the culmination of his earthly ministry, the crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and enthronement. Today is a heart focus. This pericope comes from Luke’s account of Jesus’ “Sermon on the Plain.” While there are many similarities to Matthew’s account of Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount,” Luke’s writing contains additional information while omitting other teachings. There is no reason to believe Jesus said or used illustrations only one time. For example, the content of Mt. 7:15-20 and Mt. 12:33-35 spoken on two different occasions contain the same material as what you have just read in Luke. Remember Jesus traveled around the whole region of Galilee, an area containing more than 200 villages and somewhere between 200,000 and 700,000 people during his day as he spoke both in synagogues and to large crowds proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. As often as he spoke, he undoubtedly repeated himself in various situations.
This short portion of Scripture continues the thought of the previous section. The disciples were following the rabbi Jesus trying to grasp everything he was teaching, in order to become more like him. This pattern of following a rabbi was common in Jesus’ day. A rabbi would choose his students. We have mentioned this in previous devotionals; the disciples were called the talmidim, “students of sages.” A rabbi would take on twelve students who would leave all to follow and study with him hoping to become just like him in thought and living. In fact, Jesus had many more than twelve disciples. He just chose these twelve to be with him more intimately. (Lk.6:11) These words are directed to the twelve specifically, though there was a large crowd in attendance. A few verses earlier Luke records Jesus saying, “the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher.” Jesus is making a point of the necessity of consistency between source and product.
The illustration Jesus used here points to what he valued (and values) so highly―the condition of the heart toward God. A proverb of King Solomon says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7) Infact, throughout the Scriptures we hear this message over and over:
Proverbs 4:23 “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
Jeremiah 17:9-10 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” KJV
Mark 7:21-23 “For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.”
Matthew 6:21 “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”
In a world which lives on short sound bites, grandiose statements, and manicured and doctored appearances, God calls us to look at the fruit the heart produces. Is there continuity in what is said and what is lived? What is the fruit of the words or ideas? Both in people and organizations, what are the actual “figs and grapes” produced, not the propaganda, not the image, just the fruit? Jesus has given all of us a good challenge as to how to live today. The charge remains day after day. Feed your heart on his word every day, they all count. Our Source and our fruit should be connected. As Jesus said, “A good person produces good things from a treasury of a good heart.” And Jesus living in that heart is what makes it good. The fruit is often joy!
Music: “I Can Tell the World” Nathaniel Dett Chorale (Don’t miss it!!)
From all blindness of heart, from pride,vainglory, and hypocrisy: from envy, hatred, and malice, and all uncharitableness, Good Lord, deliver us. Amen. ―Book of Common Prayer