Yesterday I discovered that I had been fooled for over a month. By a plant. I was surprised to see a pumpkin growing on my zucchini plant, until I realized my mistake.
Another gardening mystery was solved for me the other day. I was listening to Jim Hole on CBC and he succinctly explained why it is difficult to grow a good apple tree from a seedling. Part of the maturation process for the seed is dependent on the type of pollen it receives when a flower. So if your apple blossom has been pollinated with dandelion pollen, the fruit will grow fine but the seed will likely produce a substandard tree. Huh.
“Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”
John knows we are at once both pumpkin and apple. His earlier command, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near”, can only lead to one kind of change in a person’s life. Good pumpkin seed, planted, and well tended will only produce pumpkins.
But there is another kind of seed. It involves a lot of nodding and agreement, a lot adherence to ritual. But it produces no fruit. It is the apple seed with dandelion pollen. Loud lamentations are perhaps a good first step, but left there without turning away from sin is repentance without fruit. It is grace without the cross; discipleship without cost, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer bemoans.
Pharisees are so ignominious that their name is a byword for hypocrisy. But their example still serves as a warning. It is so easy to nod along with what we read in Scripture without really taking it heart. Without planting the Word deeply in us, without careful tending, it may not produce the result God expects. So let us be careful to be both hearers and doers of the word.
Lord, I have ears. Let me hear. I have hands. I will obey.