Passage: Luke 13:6-9
“Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?”
As a little girl, I would count down the months until summer each year. I lived in the city and spent every summer vacation at my grandmother’s farm by a salt water bay close to the ocean. I have many fond memories of those days; most of them have to do with the freedom we had and the abundance of fresh fruit and fish available at arm’s reach. I remember sitting down below a fig tree and resting under its shadows with my cousins. We’d reach up and get a juicy fig for a snack. I still remember how flawless and tasty they were and I can even recall the scent of the perfect fruit. Interestingly enough, that fig tree was neither planted in any special place nor was it tendered by anyone. It was actually on the side of a dirt road, in the middle of nowhere, standing alone. Planted in good soil, the tree was bearing good fruit. I dare say that the small road that ran beside the tree was built around it, so that the fruitful tree would not have to be cut down.
In contrast to my childhood’s fig tree, the one described in Luke 13 is tendered by the Vineyard-Keeper, loved by Him, and still remains barren for years. The parable is a picture of Almighty God in His dealings with His children, Jewish and Gentiles. The Man (Owner) is Jehovah God, the vineyard is His kingdom – the realm of God’s truth and righteousness that He has been establishing on earth through His people since His covenant with Abraham.
is the fig tree, which God planted in His vineyard. Jesus is the Vineyard-keeper. Notice that this tree has been planted by the Owner, not by chance, but by design. A fig tree in a vineyard, different by Divine Design and unfortunately, fruitless by choice: Israel
The Fruit that God is seeking:
“And he said to the vineyard-keeper, ‘Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground!” v.7
The three years mentioned in the parable are significant. The number three in the Bible stands for completeness.
was given chance after chance to redeem itself in three different phases of its history: (1) By the Law, (2) By the Prophets (3) By Christ. And still, as the Owner comes looking for fruit of repentance and change, He finds a tree with no fruit. Thus still fruitless, the tree is not only on the way – it’s taking space of other trees that would otherwise bear much fruit in God’s kingdom. Not only is it fruitless, it is a bad influence to the world around it that is watching it. It must be cut down. Israel
God does come to each of us for His harvest. When He comes, what will He find?
My Father is glorified by this that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples” John 15:8 NASB
Oh, that we will heed our Father’s words of reproach in this parable! You see, the tree in the parable is alive. It draws enough substance from the ground to keep from dying – it draws the moisture away from the surrounding soil and receives the rain and sunshine from Heaven. This tree is not a reference to a non-believer, stranger to the blessings and abundance of God’s grace, provision and love. It receives, however it does not share. It is fed, but does not feed. This is a Christian who is ministered to, but does not seek to minister to others. This is the Christian who has gifts and talents, given by God, but is just sitting in the pews. Worse yet, this is the Christian who is holding on to sinful habits and life-style, keeping one foot in the world and one in the church. Therefore God cannot and will not effectively use him or her.
I am writing much on my own experience. Sometime after my salvation, I let the passion for Christ that had once engulfed my entire life, cool down in my heart. But God, in His marvelous mercy, kept pointing out things that I needed to lay down. I kept on justifying why it made no sense to do so. And so I stood, at the corner of the vineyard, bearing little fruit, sharing little, being nourished but not giving – keeping the gifts that God had given me within the self-serving sphere of my life and my relationships. I did not understand the uneasiness within my spirit at that time, the impression that something very crucial in my life was missing. Now I know: the Owner of the Vineyard had given me His sentence: CUT-IT-DOWN!
I don’t know about you, but I know several Christians who can relate to my story – living in defeat other than enjoying the victorious and abundant life that Jesus promised (John 10:10). I am absolutely NOT referring to faithful Christians who go through difficult valleys. The valleys are part of our journey and it is in them that we have the opportunity to grow closer to the Father. I am talking about people that are living empty lives, portraying negative behaviors, defeated attitudes, even when everything is going well. I firmly believe that the uneasiness and emptiness is often the weight of the sentence that God is giving: “CUT-(HE OR SHE)-DOWN. Cut them down from My Peace, cut them down from My Guidance, cut them down from true fellowship with Me.” Thus we see these faces every day, going through the motions, reciting the right verses, singing along songs of praise. But ultimately, their peace and joy is skin deep. No wonder! Living on the inside of these fellow Christians dwells the Holy Spirit of God, who is ready and willing to enable them to be what God designed them to be, but is being hindered by the person who is not willing to serve or to surrender his or her life completely. I know it too well. As we say it in the South: “Been there, done that”.
One more year. Grace – once again.
In the parable, as soon as the sentence is pronounced, the Vineyard-Keeper pleads with the Owner: “One more year! Have mercy! Let Me fertilize it, dig around it and if it still does not bear fruit, cut it down!”
Under Christ’s merciful care, we are allowed another period for repentance, reformation, for renewal of heart and life. This is a sacred opportunity for His children – one that we must not, by any means neglect. May we heed His voice and search our hearts, for if we don’t, the word of Divine condemnation will be spoken and we will lose our place of blessing in the
. If you are saved, you know you are eternally secure in Christ. But we also know that there is more to life and to eternity than just “being blessed” and ultimately going to Heaven. We also know that eternity begins the moment we accept Christ as our Savior. Our journey to eternity begins with repentance and will be crowned with our faithfulness to His Word and the works we perform here on earth for Him. Kingdom of God
What fruit do you have to show the Grower? Does your life reflect the joy and peace that comes from being in the center of God’s will, even in the midst of the hardest trial? If you were to be honest about your life, could you say that you bear fruit and that you offer shade for the people who are around you? Do you know your spiritual gift(s)? Are you praying and asking God to show how He can use your gifts for His glory? Are there things that you are holding on to, because they are too dear to you, but which would be a stumbling block if someone were to seek your guidance and help? If so, my friend, I urge you to surrender your life before His throne. Find what your spiritual gifts are; pray for discernment, give up whatever is keeping you from being all that God designed you to be. I promise, you will experience a peace and joy that is greater and better than ANYTHING this world can offer. You will feel a sense of completeness and you will be effective as you have never been before.
The blessings that are poured down when we choose to repent and obey are unlimited! You will discover gifts and talents that you did not even know you had! Moreover, when the Grower comes again to inspect His vineyard, your life will bear beautiful fruits for His glory. He will smile at you and say “Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your Master.” (Matthew 25:23 NASB)
Dear Father, I praise you for the long-suffering and patience that You have demonstrated in my life time and time again. Thank you that You love me so much that You will not let me rest unfruitful at the corner of Your vineyard. I pray that Your Holy Spirit will convict me every time that I turn to a self-serving life, and I pray you remind me constantly that I am part of Your plan to reach this dying world. Help me learn, one step at a time, to surrender my ALL to you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Do you need to find out or confirm what your Spiritual Gifts are? Click on this link: http://www.fba.org/ministries/discipleship/780-guide-to-spiritual-gifts