This lesson has two parts. The first part (vs. 1-5) makes the point that tragedy cannot be understood as evidence of sinfulness. The second part (vs. 6-9) suggests that the absence of tragedy may be due, not to human righteousness, but to divine patience. The two parts are united by the theme of repentance. The question that is posed to Jesus assumes the ancient view that tragedy comes as the result of sinfulness. Jesus’ response denies any such association and implies that the questioners themselves are guilty of self-righteousness. Since they had not suffered tragedy, they think they are without sin. The incident of the collapse of the tower allowed for the same misinterpretation. Jesus will not allow the equation of suffering and sinfulness and calls his interrogators to repentance. The parable of the fig tree puts the matter of suffering and sin in a new context and invites us to consider the merciful patience of God. Fig trees were usually given three years to mature and begin to produce fruit. The tree avoids a tragic end, not because it is fruitful, but because of a patient vinedresser. The image suggests the way in which the mercy of God extends a second chance even to the most undeserving.