“Think on These Things” is a column written by retired Creston pastor Ian Cotton
Part one of The Fig Tree: Spare it this Year Also
Jesus said, “The son of man is not come, to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” Luke 9:56. “God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” John 3:17. His mission of mercy in its relation to God’s justice and judgment is illustrated in the parable of the barren fig tree in Luke 13.
Christ had been warning the people of the coming of the kingdom of God, and he had sharply rebuked their ignorance and indifference. The signs in the sky foretelling the weather, they were quick to read; but the signs of the times, which so clearly pointed to His mission, were not discerned.
And this is true today too. We are living in momentous times, but so many are indifferent! But men then, and today, conclude that they are the favourites of heaven, and that the message of reproof and warning is meant for another.
“Except ye repent,” said Jesus, “ye shall all likewise perish.” For a little while, the day of probation lingers. There is still time to repent, to be forgiven and have peace.
“A certain man,” he continued, “had a fig-tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit, and found none. Then said he unto the gardener, three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig-tree, and find none: cut it down; why is it taking up space?” Luke 13:6 – 9
Christ’s words could not be misunderstood. Isaiah had written, “The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant.” Isaiah 5:7. The generation to whom the saviour had come were represented by the fig tree in the Lord’s vineyard – under his special care and blessing.
God’s purpose toward his people, and the glorious possibilities had been set forth in the words, “That they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified,” Isaiah 61:3. So God had planted Israel as a goodly vine “in a very fruitful hill.” He had “fenced it, and cleared the stones, and planted it with the choicest vine.” Isaiah 5:1, 2.
“And he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.” Isaiah 5:2. The people of Christ’s day made a show of piety, but were destitute of the sweet graces of the spirit of God. The precious fruits of character were not manifest. Sadly, no different today either.
In the parable, the gardener does not question the sentence that the tree, if it remained fruitless, it should be cut down. He responds by saying, “Let it alone this year also, until I fertilize it; and if it bears fruit, well.”
The owner and the gardener of the vineyard are one in their interest in the fig tree. So the Father and the Son were one in their love for the chosen people. Every means that the love of God could devise would be put in operation that they might become trees of righteousness, bringing forth fruit for the blessing of the world.
Adapted from Christ Object Lessons