Verse of the Day Devotion Luke 13:6 And He began telling this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any.
Today we will look at the Parable of the Barren Fig Tree. Here is this parable as found in Luke’s gospel.
“And He began telling this parable: A certain man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. 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? And he answered and said to him, Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.” Luke 13:6-9.
Jesus told this parable immediately after reminding all who were there about the tower over the Pool of Siloam which collapsed unexpectedly and killed eighteen people. “Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And He answered and said to them, Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:1-5.
This story starts by the vineyard owner showing his disappointment that a tree he had watched for three years had not produced any fruit. The three-year period is important because this points to John the Baptist and Jesus who had been preaching repentance and the coming of the promised Messiah for three years throughout Israel. However, the fruit of repentance was not coming forth, and they thought they were special because they we Jews. “Therefore, bring forth fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, we have Abraham for our father, for I say to you that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. And also the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Luke 3:8-9. They had departed from the true faith and the true living God. The Jews created a religion of works based on righteousness that was not pleasing to God.
Now, there are three distinct entities in this parable. The vineyard owner represents God, the one who found the tree with no fruit and justly requesting it be cut down. The vineyard keeper or gardener is Jesus the Christ, who asks for additional time to see the tree bear fruit, and the tree itself representing the Jewish nation and individuals.
The lesson in this parable is that borrowed time is not permanent. God’s patience has a limit. In the parable, the vineyard owner grants another year of life to the tree. In the same way, God in His mercy grants us more time; another year, day, minute or second. Christ stands at the door of each man’s heart knocking and seeking to gain entrance and requiring repentance from sin. But if there is no fruit or repentance, His patience will come to an end, and the fruitless, unrepentant individual will be cut down. We all live on borrowed time; judgment is close by. That is why the prophet Isaiah wrote, “Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah 55:6-7.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.
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