Luke 13:1-9, 31-35
These two passages sandwich around a passage about the Sabbath. At the beginning we get the setup for how ruthless Pilate is, and at the start of the second passage, we get warnings about Herod. Those are two of the local political powers that we heard about back at the baptism of Jesus (ch. 3).
It appears that we’re deep in the gossip circles at the start of the passage, and there is some discussion about how bad those people must have been for this to have happened to them. Jesus moves the discussion away from those specifics to his audience in general, warning them that this could happen to them as well, unless they repent. Then we get a parable. The parable is about a tree and fruit. The man who owns the tree is frustrated with it not showing fruit after three years. The gardener is told to cut it down, but he wants to give the tree one more year, with some additional work done for the tree.
We jump ahead, and the last section has the Pharisees coming to warn Jesus about Herod. Imagine that! Jesus’s response is to challenge Herod, and to call out Jerusalem. We know that Jesus will go to Jerusalem. What is interesting is these two passages both have people trying to give another person more time. The Pharisees warn Jesus that he may live and be safe. The gardener buys the tree another year of time. Who buys us that time? How do we buy time for our neighbor? What does it look like? How to we tend to our neighbor to help them grow and bear fruit? How do we protect our neighbor from those coming to get them?