94. Teaching about Accidents and Natural Law
1There were some present at that time who told him of the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
2And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered thus?
4Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem?”a
6And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7And he said to the vinedresser, 'Lo, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?' 8And he answered him, 'Let it alone, sir, this year also, till I dig about it and put on manure. 9And if it bears fruit next year well and good; but if not you can cut it down.'”
(Lk. 13:1–2, 4, 6–9)
a “do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem?”—The Jews tended to believe that prosperity was the sign of God's favor, while adversity and poverty were the result of his disapproval. The associated idea that accidents (such as the tower of Siloam falling on eighteen men) were the result of spiritual forces punishing sinners is here questioned by Jesus. He then proceeds to tell a parable, The Parable of the Fig Tree, that demonstrates and teaches that the events of the physical world are governed by natural laws, and only those who comply with those laws (dig about the tree and put on manure) may hope to reap the benefits (a bountiful yield).
Lk. 13:1 that time / that very time (RSV) (166:4/1830–1)