Before we study the parable itself, what is the background and the situation leading up to this parable? Let’s read Luke 13.
1 There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
- What was the situation that was taking place?
- There were some Galilaeans that had gone through some sort of trial because of Pilate. He had persecuted them and killed them, it seems. And they were killed, they were sacrificed.
- So Jesus asks those that are present around Him whether they thought that these Galilaeans were wicked people? Did this persecution come upon them, were they killed, because they were more wicked or more sinful than anyone else?
- Obviously the thinking that the people had at that time was that bad things happened to bad people. That the reason why they were killed by Pilate and others were kept safe was because they were sinners, and more wicked, than anyone else.
- Jesus answers by saying that if they didn’t repent, they would receive the same fate.
- Christ then continues.
- Luke 13:4-5
4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
- In Siloam, a tower fell on some men and eighteen of them died. And Jesus asks again – Do you think that they were sinners above everyone else, and that is the reason why they died? Were they more wicked and that is why this unfortunate circumstance came upon them?
- And once again, Jesus answers with the same phrase, that if you don’t repent you will suffer the same punishment as well.
Do bad things only happen to bad people? And do good things only happen to good people?
- Isn’t that the similar sort of thinking that we have today as well?
- If you get rich, then it must mean that God is blessing you.
- But if you fail your exam or you lose your job or you get deathly sick, then you must have done something bad, something wicked, something sinful, to deserve such a punishment from God.
- But Jesus said NO! That except we repent, we would all perish!
- Keep this in mind as we now go through the parable.
6 He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.
So a certain man comes and has a fig tree planted in his vineyard and after it is grown up he comes looking for fruit on it but doesn’t find any fruit. What does the fig tree represent?
- Isaiah 5:7
For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.
- The vineyard represents the house of Israel, the Israelites.
- How about the fig tree though?
- Psalms 1:3
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
- A tree represents a good and righteous person. At least that is what is seems like in this text.
- Psalms 1:3
- So God chose Israel and He blessed them. He gave them the land of Canaan. They were blessed above all the other people on the earth.
But what did the man come looking for?
- He came to the fig tree looking for fruit. It looked like a good tree. It had grown up. The leaves must have all been out already, otherwise this man would not have expected any fruit.
- You know, it would be unreasonable for any person to expect fruit on a little shoot or blade of a plant. This plant must have grown to be a tree already. It must have been a few years, all grown up, with all the signs of a mature plant.
- So the owner comes looking for fruit, but doesn’t find anything.
- So it’s possible to look like a good Christian. But looks can be deceiving. According to the words of Jesus, a true Christian must bear fruit.
What does fruit represent in the Bible?
- Galatians 5:22-23
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
- Ephesians 5:9
For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;
- The fruit represents a good character. Love, joy, peace, goodness, righteousness.
- It’s not enough to look like a good Christian, but you must show through how you live your life that you are such a person. That is true righteousness. Patience, kindness. How we talk with each other and treat each other. How we react when things don’t go our way.
- What else does fruit represent?
- Hebrews 13:15
By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
- Fruit is also connected with our lips giving thanks to his name. It is thankfulness and recognising who gave us the good gift. Recognising that it is God that blessed.
- What comes from our lips show whether we are a true Christian or not.
- In the book of James he talks about how many of us are conflicted with our lips.
- James 3:6
And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
- The tongue so small can do so much damage!
- James 3:7-12
7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: 8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? 12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.
- This shouldn’t be the case. How can we use our tongue to bless and then turn around and use it to curse?
- It is like a tree which has the form, but it doesn’t have any fruit!
- Let’s go to another text about fruit.
- John 15:8-10
8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. 9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
- The fruit of the true Christian is found in love.
- But what is love connected to in John 15? Keeping the commandments of God.
- John 15:8-10
- Righteousness will be revealed in action. Fruit can be seen. The fruit is not what makes us who we are, it is just evidence that we are righteous. And every Christian that is a follower of Christ should have these fruits.
- One more text about fruit.
- Proverbs 11:30
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.
- Love does not look inward. It looks outward in how we treat people and even sharing Jesus with others.
- When trees bear fruit, it is for the benefit of others and to others.
- Proverbs 11:30
- God chose this vineyard (Israelites) and blessed them. But He came looking for fruit and they didn’t have any. The Israelites were so blessed by God, but they didn’t act like God was the One that blessed them. They acted like all the other heathen nations around them.
- We are like that too sometimes. We go to church. We take on the name of Christian. But during the week we act nothing like a Christian. We forget all of God’s blessings to us. We forget that He has showered so much goodness on all of us.
So what happens when the owner of the vineyard doesn’t find any fruit on the tree?
- Luke 13:7
Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?
- The owner is speaking to the dresser of the vineyard. He tells him that he is just ready to cut the tree down.
- Why cumbereth the ground? What does that mean? The NIV says Why should it use up the soil? Why let it suck up the nutrients from the ground for nothing? It’s not producing any fruit. There is no use to this tree!
- Likewise, God was ready to just reject the Israelite nation. He was ready to move on.
But before the owner was to cut it down, what did the dresser want to do?
- Luke 13:8-9
8 And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: 9 And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.
- The dresser wanted to dig around it and dung it.
- Maybe it was the problem of the ground. Maybe the soil was not loose enough or maybe there weren’t enough nutrients in the soil. Maybe it was their surroundings that caused this tree not to have any fruit. It only allowed it enough nutrients to just grow leaves.
- The dresser of the vineyard wanted to try and do something with the ground before destroying the tree.
- Only after that, if it really then didn’t produce any fruit after loosening the soil and giving it more love and nutrients, then it would be cut down.
Who does the dresser represent?
- The dresser represents Jesus. He was the One that came to the fig tree and tried His best to revive it.
- The Israelites were the most blessed because the Son of God came Himself to live among them. Jesus’ life was primarily focused on the Jews.
- Jesus did His best to save Israel. The best of the best came to this nation. That’s why God can expect the best from them as well.
- Isaiah 5:1-2
1 Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: 2 And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.
- The dresser did so much for the vine. All he wanted back was grapes. He just wanted fruits. But there were no fruits.
- Everything in the world gives, except for the human heart. We are abnormal.
- Everything lives to give. The plants, the insects and animals. They all play a part in what they do to keep the ecosystem alive.
- Giving fruit is actually normal. To reflect good character, and treat people with love should be normal. But we don’t do it.
- So God gave us a chance when He sent Jesus into this world. He was the one that dug the ground and loosened the soil and dung it, putting fertiliser on it.
- He obviously failed. The Jews ended up crucifying the Son of God. Not that Jesus was the problem, but it was the Israelite nation that didn’t produce any fruit.
So how can we bear fruit today? How can we make sure we don’t repeat the mistakes of the Jews of old?
- John 15:5-6
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 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.
- We have to abide in the main branch, Jesus Christ.
- Jesus went mainly to the Israelites. It should have been the easiest for them to bear fruit. But they didn’t
- But because of what happened to the Israelites back then, we can be Christians today – God’s chosen people. But God is still asking for the same thing – for fruit. His request has not changed. It’s just that the Israelites failed, so He focused on someone else.
Are we bearing fruits? God has given us the blessings, and now it is our turn to bear fruits.
- To love your brothers, your sisters, your friends, but also your enemies, those that don’t do good to you as well.
- To spread the gospel, tell people about Jesus. To share the blessings with other.
- To be God’s chosen people today, we have to fulfil what the Israelites didn’t fulfil. If not, we will suffer the same fate as them.
- But why do we not bear fruit? We are not attached to the vine.
How can we be attached to the vine? How can we abide in Christ?
- John 15:7
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
- To abide in Christ means to have His word abiding in us. We must spend time in His word and remember what God has said.
- A true Christian is not the one that goes to church only but the one that has the word abiding in them, having their foundation as God’s word. Without God’s words we cannot abide in Him.
- The root of the problem is our heart.
- Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
- If the heart of the human is the problem, then the only thing that can deal with it is the Bible because the Bible is like a sword which can cut to our heart and our mind. It has the remedy to our hearts issues.
- Church is not the main solution to the issue. What you have to do is spend time in the word.
People stop coming to church or stop taking church so seriously because they are not reading the Bible. That is the simple solution. They don’t have a loving relationship with Jesus. They have loving relationships with people in the church. And so when something bad happens to them from someone in the church, they stop coming.
Things will happen that will turn us off from certain people. But we should not allow that we affect our faithfulness to Christ and our love for others.
The question is, are you walking with Jesus 7 days a week? If you have the word of God abiding in you, you will bear fruits because your heart is with Jesus and Jesus would then live in and through you because you would be getting the nutrients from Him.
Today we focus so much on the outward. But if we were to abide in Christ, we would never leave church. The Roman soldier nailed Jesus on the cross, but Jesus still said “Father, forgive them.” If you deal with the heart, everything else outwardly becomes easy. You wouldn’t have to fight so hard to keep the 10 commandments. If Jesus is with you, it becomes easy. If the problem is hatred or forgiveness, it becomes easy with Jesus because Jesus would forgive. We need the word in us to change. Focus on the word of God – get it in your head somehow. Listen, read, watch it, get the Bible into your heart. Being a Christian isn’t about going to church, it’s about reading the Bible – abiding in Christ and letting His Word abide in you.
But now, coming back to what Jesus was dealing with at the beginning. Do you remember? Some people were killed, and others died because a tower fell on them. People thought that these people must have been sinners above everyone else. But Jesus said except you repent you will all likewise perish.
How is this related? You see friends, it isn’t so much about what happens to you on the outside, the circumstances of life. It’s not about whether you lost your job, or you died of a fatal disease, or you were imprisoned or got into a car accident – none of this shows whether you are righteous or wicked. It happens to everyone! The sun shines and the rain falls on both the wicked and the holy.
Jesus is trying to show us that it is more about the fruits of the Christian life. Our character. How we react to circumstances. All of this shows whether we are righteous or not. And of course, this can only be possible if we are connected and abiding in the true vine. Let’s stop judging by outward circumstances today, but rather just focus on our own journey and our walk with Jesus. May God help each of us to be connected to Him every moment of each day and hour.