Ever wondered why Jesus was born in a barn and placed in a manger? Why would the Savior of the world be born in such a dirty and unimportant place–unsanitary, filled with dust, manure, and snot? And… in general, why are our lives, our whole world filled with so much mess–so much filth?
Jesus told the following parable. Maybe it will give us some insight into those questions:
Luke 13: 6-9
“A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. (“uproot it”) Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone (aphiemi: “let it be, forgive it, suffer it”) this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure (koprion – that’s Greek vernacular for manure). Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can (“Uproot it”).”
Now, I think it’s really important to accurately communicate the meaning of what the gardener says to the vineyard owner. Basically: “Lord forgive it, and I’ll throw some shit on it, and maybe it will grow some fruit next year.”
Do you ever pray, “God, I know you love me and you forgive me, but what’s with the sh…-manure? I hate manure!”
It’s important to know that the man—Adam—is saved by poop.
My Grandpa was a farmer. One of his most important pieces of equipment was the manure spreader. Ask my Grandpa, and he would tell you, “You can’t grow fruit without it.”
Maybe God is growing fruit like faith, and it grows in doubt, or grace. It grows where sin increased. That’s where “Grace abounds all the more.” Faith, hope, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control . . . . Maybe the tree that produces that fruit only grows in some pretty broken and dirty soil.
Did you know that the cross is also called “a tree?” It grows in a garden (John 19:41), where Christ’s body was placed in the ground. The fruit of the tree is “body broken and blood shed,” the love of God poured out. In fact, you really wouldn’t know who God is, except for knowledge gained from that tree – but not just dead knowledge, like law, but resurrected and living knowledge: Jesus.
The fruit of that tree is eternal life. There we die with Christ and rise with Christ. The death is temporal; the life is eternal. But we all must die to truly live.
The tree (a tree) is a remarkable thing! It takes dirt (Adamah), (and we’re made of dirt), dirt and poop (our flesh eats life and makes poop). A tree takes dirt and poop and mixes it with light and makes fruit. The cross takes sin and transforms it into grace. It takes fear and transforms it into faith. –Peter Hiett
Maybe the Savior of the world is born into a broken and dirty place in the Christmas story to show us that His life best grows in us in these very kinds places. Maybe He enters into our world amongst sh…manure and filth to help us know that we don’t have to hide our own messiness from Him. He’s willing to go to the dirtiest and darkest of places that we might find Him, that we might find Life!
So fear not! Surrender the dirty and messy places of your world and heart to Him. He not only can handle it; He’ll do some pretty amazing things while He’s there!!
This devotional was prepared by Peter’s assistant, Kimberly Weynen. To dig into these things deeper, click on the link to read the whole transcript and/or watch the sermon: How To Beat Terrorism (and why s*%t happens)