Summary: The interpretation is for the lost to repent while there is time...but Jesus makes much application to the saved to bear fruit, for that is why He left us here. Link included to formatted text, audio, and PowerPoint Template.
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
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...
a. For 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
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
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.
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.