Parable of the Barren Fig Tree
In the parable found in Luke 13:6-9, the fig tree — which hadn’t produced fruit its first three years — is granted another year to bear fruit. The fig tree represents us — you and me — while the man represents God and the keeper of the vineyard is Jesus, who is our Mediator and the one who makes intercession for us. Here are four valuable lessons we can learn from this parable.
The Master is patient with us: The Master has all his trees numbered and he keeps coming back — three years in a row — to the same tree. “That tree is three years fig-free. Why should it use up resources? What a worthless tree. Throw it into the fire.” We may nod our heads in agreement: “That’s a good idea.” But God’s not like you or me. God says, “Let’s give it more time.” God’s not done with you or me. Our Master is patient (II Pet. 3:9, 15).
The Master’s patience will run out: He will come back searching for fruit. He will allow the keeper of the vineyard to persuade him on to another year. But eventually, the unfruitful tree will be cut down so it will no longer be a bad influence on the rest of the vineyard. So, where are you in this process? Bottom line: We just don’t know. Thus, we need to be working and fruit-bearing all the time.
The Master will help us bear fruit: Not only is the Master patient with us, the Master also helps us bear fruit (v. 8). God hasn’t just planted us here, and then said, “Get to it.” We’re not on an island by ourselves. He’s our Friend who’s given us everything we need to thrive (II Pet. 1:2-3). Remember, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Phil. 4:13).
The Master expects fruit: God expects results. God is concerned about performance. God cares about fruitfulness — good works, obedience, a changed life. Living a life that makes a difference; you aren’t just a consumer, but you’re a producer. God has fruit for you to bear. Jesus says in John 15:1-8 that if we abide in Him, He’ll abide in us and we’ll bear much fruit — fruit that will last. Apart from Christ, we cannot accomplish anything of permanent spiritual value.
God does not want barren trees. He wants fruitful ones.