‘No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.
One of our apple trees produces fruit which I don’t actually like. It is perfect for the purpose for which it was bred but I should have tasted it before buying. Caveat emptor. Our brambles, an Ashton Cross variety, produce brambles, rather large berries in fact and the Madelaine Sylvaner grape vine does, indeed, produce grapes, rather small juicing ones.
As Luke records it, Jesus’ sermon focuses on the nature of the new community he is bringing into being. Starting from the “blessings and woes” (vv 20-26) Luke stresses that the community must image God to those it touches. An apple is an apple. Whether it is for friends or enemies the apple tastes the same, it cannot be otherwise. You might not like the taste but it must be true to its own nature, perfect for its purpose. Disciples can only produce good treasure when it comes from their good heart. It’s a long time since I heard any expressions about “that’s a seed sown”. Jesus throughout the passage emphasizes that disciples must be like God and God plays a long game. We won’t necessarily know the result of any seed of word or act of mercy we have sown but if it is from good fruit, the fruit of the good heart then we can rest assured there will be a good outcome.
In the autumn both the brambles and grapevine send out long runners to try to establish new plants. In response to a combination of plentiful rain and bright sunny days there are more runners and more young plants next spring, than in dull or dry years. One would like to draw the simile “out of their abundance” and in a way this is true, but it is perhaps a better simile to say they have heard the call of the sun and respond to it with good heart and produce the good treasure out of the abundance God gives them.
Lord, “Sow in our hearts the seeds of Thy dear love, That we may reap contentment, joy, and peace; And when at last our earthly labours cease, Grant us to join Thy harvest home above.” (Sixth verse of “Hear us, O Lord” T.H.Gill)
The Rev’d Ruth Browning, retired Minister, worshipping at Thornbury URC.