Parable of the Barren Fig Tree
I. THE PARABLE IN ITS ORIGINAL SETTING
A. JESUS WAS RESPONDING TO NEWS ABOUT A CALAMITY - Lk 13:1-5
1. He was told of how Pilate (the Roman governor) had...
a. Killed some Galileans (Jews from Galilee, the same region
Jesus was from)
b. Mingled their blood along with their sacrifices
2. He anticipated the thinking of those who brought Him this news...
a. Were those who suffered such atrocities worse sinners than other Galileans?
b. No, and unless they repented they would likewise perish!
3. He reinforces His point with a reference to a similar calamity
a. In which a tower in Siloam (in Jerusalem) collapsed and killed eighteen people
b. Those victims were no worse sinners than others in Jerusalem
4. He then repeats His warning that unless they repent, they will all likewise perish!
a. Some understand this to be a reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70
b. Whether or not, it still called for individual repentance. Bad things happen randomly, and by God's grace it hasn't happened to us...yet.
B. THE PARABLE OF THE BARREN FIG TREE - Lk 13:6-9
1. The basic elements of the parable...
a. A man is disappointed that a fig tree in his vineyard is unfruitful
b. He wants to cut it down, but is persuaded by the keeper of the vineyard to give it one more year
c. If no fruit is borne, then the tree is to be cut down
2. The basic point of the parable...
a. The central lessons of verses 1-5 are clear: "Repent!"
b. The parable in verses 6-9 takes the call to repentance one step further: "Repent NOW!"
c. Fruitlessness will not be endured forever!
Those who heard Jesus would appreciate the point, for what farmer desires to put up with a tree that won't bear fruit? But do we today appreciate the point? There is application to us as well in our fruitfulness. God left us here to be fruitful…that is the purpose…so why not cut us down and take us on home if we don’t bear fruit?
To help make it even clearer, consider what we can glean from this parable...
II. LESSONS FOR US TODAY
A. WHERE GOD HAS EXTENDED PRIVILEGES, HE EXPECTS RETURNS...
1. The owner of the vineyard expected the fig tree to bear fruit
a. He had given it good soil
b. For three years it had been provided care
c. He was giving it an extra year, but only for the purpose of bearing fruit
2. God blessed Israel, and He was disappointed when they did not bear fruit- Read Isa 5:1-7
3. So He has blessed us through His Son Jesus, and we are to glorify God by bearing fruit - Jn 15:8
-- Have you utilized the privileges God has given you...? We want privilege, but are we willing to accept responsibility that leads to privilege?
B. THE LORD IS LONGSUFFERING, BUT IT DOESN'T LAST FOREVER...
1. We see the longsuffering of the owner of the vineyard
a. He had given the fig tree three years to produce fruit
b. He was persuaded to give it another year with special care
c. But that last year was the final opportunity the tree would be given
2. We see the longsuffering of the Lord in His dealing with the nation of Israel
a. His longsuffering in the wilderness
b. His longsuffering in the times of the judges
c. His longsuffering during the reigns of the kings
d. And yet, He did take the "kingdom of God" away from them and give it to a nation bearing the fruits of it - cf. Mt 21:43
Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
3. So the Lord has been longsuffering to us in America, but is our hour almost up?...
a. He does not want anyone to be lost - 2 Pe 3:9 […not willing that any should perish…]
b. His longsuffering has been for our salvation - 2 Pe 3:15
2 Peter 3:15
And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
c. But the longsuffering will one day end, and the "day of the Lord" will come - 2 Pe 3:7,10
2 Peter 3:7
But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
2 Peter 3:10
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
C. THOSE WHO ARE UNFRUITFUL WILL BE CUT OFF...
1. The barren fig tree, if it remained so, was to be cut down
2. So Jesus warned His disciples that such would happen to them if they did not bear fruit...
a. "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He taketh away;" - Jn 15:2a
b. " If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. " - Jn 15:6
3. Paul warned the Gentile Christians that they would be cut off if they did not remain faithful (which implies fruitfulness)
19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. 20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: 21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. 22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. 23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.
4. Heb 6:1-8 talks of some who fall away because they are not fruitful…they bear thorns and thistles instead of herbs. This is not suggesting they lose their salvation by the way, it rather says if they could they could not be renewed again…but Jesus’ teaching on this is clear, He is patient and longsuffering, and wants to give us space to turn around and be fruitful. But we know not how much of a grace period we have!
The basic lesson of the parable of "The Barren Fig Tree": repent.
- Lk 13:6-9
1) For the Lord has been longsuffering already
2) And what time you have left may be short!
2. Don't think that people who die tragic deaths are any worse sinners than yourself...
a. For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God - Rom 3:23
b. Even just one sin makes one guilty of all - Ja 2:10
For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
c. And the wages of sin is death (eternal separation from God) – Rom 6:23; cf. Rev 21:8 [death and hell cast into lake of fire]
-- So if we do not repent, our end will be no less tragic than the worst calamity ever to befall mankind!
3. But the good news of the gospel is that God offers us the gift of eternal life! - Rom 6:23
a. However, remember the warning for those who do not repent –
4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? 5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds: 7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: 8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, 9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; 10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: 11 For there is no respect of persons with God.
b. And, unlike the barren fig tree, you may have less than a year to repent and bear fruit!
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