What Happened to the Fig Tree?
The Parable of the Unfruitful Fig Tree – Luke 13:1-9 – raises the question of whether we are living a fruitful Christian life, which is to look different from a worldly life.
Jesus’ parable arose from news items: In the rebellion of Judas of Galilee – Pilate slaughtered worshippers who refused to pay their taxes during Passover; 18 were killed in collapse of tower of Siloam. They were not more guilty than others, and “Unless you repent you too will all perish”
1. God expects fruit – the landowner goes looking for fruit
God designed all life to reproduce after its kind – fruit and seeds lead to new organisms – a symbol of spiritual fruitfulness.
In the Old Testament, fruitful trees were a symbol of godly living: Jeremiah 17:7-8; Psalm 1:3 – Those who trust in the Lord are like trees planted by a river.
God wants the life of Jesus reproduced in ourselves and those around us – with lives transformed to be like Him, repenting, following and obeying Jesus and the Holy Spirit, growing spiritually, serving, sacrificing, giving, witnessing, reading the Bible faithfully, praying, growing closer to Jesus, and becoming more like Him.
2. God periodically examines us – the landowner reviews the unfruitful history of the tree.
God is serious about how we live our lives, that we have accomplished what we should and done the works of Christ.
Galatians 5:22-23 – The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Looks for results in daily life: conduct, attitudes, thought and speech - virtuous holy living, temper control, humility, tenderness, communion with God in private. In churches, corporate worship, love for brethren, sympathy, intercession in prayer, earnest efforts at planting the seed of Christ in others' hearts and reproducing Christ in them.
God expects a return from those to whom He has extended privileges.
Luke 12:48 – From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
3. Lack of fruit brings judgement – Cut it down!
We've had enough time to be fruitful, but we are barren. The unfruitful ones will be cut off.
John 15:2 – He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
The landowner's disappointment: Christians indistinguishable from the world; language, moral standards same as on TV; Christian families break up, Churches have squabbles, close down.
Even the world looks for Christians to live better lives! Reporters looks for inconsistencies.
Faults not corrected; salvation not enjoyed; new, abundant life not lived.
Some are not better than others, "For all have sinned and fall short of God's glory." Romans 3:23.
4. Grace asks for more time – The vinedresser intercedes for one more year.
Christ's ministry of grace and mercy, the Mediator between God and mankind.
He intercedes because of His love for us – More than just an emotion – backed by nail-pierced hands, wound feet, spear-riven side – why?
2 Peter 3:9 - The Lord is ... not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
Love like that directed toward us just encourages a response of love towards God from us.
We have been granted a reprieve – no fatal calamity has yet befallen us. No matter how we have failed, we have been given a renewed chance, a clean slate.
5. There is a limit on God's grace – one more year
God is longsuffering, but His patience won’t last forever.
Recognize that if we refuse to repent and we die in our sins, we will have missed the opportunity that God has granted us. The theme of Lent is repentance.
What if this day, this month, this year is our last? Now is the time to redirect our lives.
2 Corinthians 6:2 - For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
6. How can we be fruitful?
The fruit of the Spirit can’t be forced to happen.
God grows the fruit in us as we yield to Him – not as a straight, one-time gift.
We may recognize the emptiness of religion without a vital relationship with Jesus.
Are we just going through the motions?
Have we lost our first love for Christ?
God judges phony faith, but welcomes those who come in humble surrender.
“Lord please make me the kind of person my dog thinks I am!” - Warren J. Keating
Are we seeking to produce fruit to please our Saviour?
Rev. James May:
“A fig tree in God’s garden that isn’t thirsty for the Word of God or hungry for the fertilizing power of the Holy Spirit won’t benefit at all from their provision… Time after time, service after service, continually, Jesus is passing by to inspect the fig trees in His garden, looking for that ripened fruit of the Spirit. He searches for the fruits of righteousness including souls we may have won to the Lord, good works that we have done or a change in our nature and character for the better… Jesus is passing by this morning. He is coming to see if we have borne any fruit for His Kingdom. He is coming to see if we are dry, thirsty, or hungry. He is still coming to help us to be productive. Don’t miss this opportunity! We never know when the last one will come.”
7. What happened to the fig tree?
Surprisingly, the end of the story is missing – was it cut down or fruitful? It's open-ended – write your own ending – what is your response?
God's expectation is of fruit – the reproduction of Christ in our own heart, and in the lives of others through our witness – a life of seed-sowing. What will it be?