This morning I sat and listened to an old familiar story that Jesus told long ago. Jesus tells us about a man who planted a fig tree in his garden. He apparently has great hopes for this tree for he comes and checks it time and time again, looking for fruit. To his great disappointment, three years pass and there is still not a single fig. Disappointed and frustrated, he orders his gardener to cut it down for as far as he is concrned, the fig tree is merely taking up space in his garden.
Now I have always heard this story as a warning that we need to be fruitful but today the speaker put a slightly different spin on this story. A spin which I believe is worth our consideration.
You see, Jesus tells us this man came and visited the tree for three years but he makes no mention of any thing being done to cultivate the tree. The Bible simply tells us that the man planted the tree, kept looking for fruit and was always disappointed.
I am not a good gardener and my "crops" tend to have limited success. I putter about with them for a bit but then grow tired of them and leave them to fend for themselves as best they can and it shows. It is a different matter with my friend Alison Stewart (@kiwibird). She is a gardener who delights not only in planting and harvesting her crops but in the growing process as well. I always marvel at the tender-loving care she gives the plants in her garden and it shows!
I believe I am sort of understand the man who planted the fig tree. He planted that fig tree and had high hopes for it. It would bear marvelous fruit which he would enjoy as he rested in the cool shadow of it's branches. Perhaps the fame of his figs would grow and people would travel great distances just to catch of glimpse of his marvelous tree. He had dreams but that's all they were. They were nothing but hopes and dreams. Disappointed, he cries out to the gardener, demanding that the tree be destroyed... just like his dreams.
I wonder if this was the moment the gardener was waiting for? You see, the gardener tells the man not to be so hasty. Let him have the care of the tree. He will carefully cultivate it and tend to it, giving it extra-special attention and care. In the hands of the gardener, the one with the skill, knowledge, patience and love, the tree will thrive, blossom and bear fruit.
Are you sadly looking at the barren tree of your hopes and dreams? You trusted God, believing that surely by now the tree would at least be blossoming even if it wasn't laden with fruit but it is not. You are overwhelmed with disappointment.
Turn your "fig tree" over to The Gardener. Allow Him to have his way with your hopes and dreams. Let Him cultivate the soil, apply the fertilizer and even prune where necessary. Then, regardless of how long it takes, you will discover that your "fig tree" will blossom, bear fruit and the fruit of it will be better than you could have ever produced or even imagined.
Photo Credits: 1. Stoonn/freedigitalphotos.net 2. Alison Stewart
The background for this parable begins in verse 1 of chapter 13 in Luke, in particular verse 5, "...unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." Jesus is addressing the Jews and the fig tree is often a symbol of Israel. In Matthew and Mark we see the fig tree that Jesus cursed because it did not have any fruit. The Jews were given one last chance to repent with the coming of Jesus, their Messiah. He preached and taught for three and a half years but even after His crucifixion and resurrection they would not believe or repent. In 70 AD their temple was destroyed by the armies of Rome under Titus. This parable is a very clear warning to the Jews that they only had one more chance. I don't believe we can wrest it into a parable about spiritual growth.
Jesus taught and preached 3 1/2 years. He died and resurrected. The church was persecuted for forty years. The Jews had more than enough time to repent. I did not say God would not restore the Nation of Israel or that the promises God made to Israel would not be fulfilled. I don't think your application fits the intent of the parable. Without repentance everyone will face destruction. You didn't even touch on that. In future maybe you should make the application fit the interpretation.
First off, nations are people. Nothing in the text indicates that the vinedresser (gardener) had not been caring for it all along. He did want more time, to do more, to see if it would bear fruit. As for individuals, Jesus clearly commanded His disciples to abide and remain in HIM. That is the ONLY way we can be of the vine, or bear fruit, either one. Jesus also told His that if they did not abide and remain in Him, and bear fruit, they would be removed, and burned. We can't change that text, to support OSAS, or any other doctrine. We just accept the teaching that is there, to properly interpret.
What God will do to a nation, He will do to an individual, regarding bearing fruit. That is the only way to interpret correctly. When Jesus gave the Olivet discourse, as it is termed, He mentions the 'fig tree', but in Lukes account, Lk. Chp. 21, He says 'and all the trees'. He is speaking of the 'signs' He had just given them, and when we see them all coming to pass. Yes, I believe scripture clearly teaches the nations will come against Israel, who have been regathered, and are a nation again.
Anyhow, nothing in the context of Luke 12 or 13, indicates that He is speaking exclusively of the Jews. We all have to repent. Everybody, each person. And each person must bear fruit. And each person that does, is also pruned, so that they will bear more fruit. It is not optional, not according to Jesus Christ. Without HIM, we can do nothing. We can not even be a part. And we abide, and remain, in Him.
But, my point K , is that the vinedresser had been caring for it all along. He just asked for more time, before the owner has it cut down. God Bless.
K I totally get what you are saying here! Timing is hugely important here. I mean, there are many fruit trees which produce absolutely nothing for 3-5 years - until that time they are just not ready. The gardener still has to tend them, however. They still need pruning, feeding, protecting, even if there aren't any signs of progress! What comes out of your blog, for me, is the need for patience; the need to acknowledge that Got has perfect timing for the optimum result. If I didn't 'know' that my plum tree and my apricot tree are going to take several years to start fruiting I would be discouraged by the wait. What I do know, however, is that the 'dream' I have will become reality only when and if I wait for the right time. Do we react according to our desire or God's will?
In addition, there have been many times when God has taught/reminded me of different aspects of my Christian faith as I have walked/worked in my garden. I have never tried to measure the examples he gave me up against scripture. It may be my simple post-brain tumour faith but it seems to me, that if God speaks, I ought to listen!
I completely understand the message you are trying to convey here K. My pastor recently preached a sermon on this verse and yes Jesus is addressing the Jews but your application truly blessed me.