Summary: The parable of the fruitless fig tree conveys both a warning and great good news.
The Last Chance Luke 13:6-9
INTRO.: Think about the recent Tsunami that killed over 100,000 people. We always wonder why God allows such things and I don’t have the answer. Were those people worse sinners than all the rest of the world’s population? Hardly.
In Luke 13, the Jews bring up a similar disaster that had befallen them. They believed, falsely, that such things were caused by the personal sins of the victims. Jesus responds with a warning and a story. READ TEXT.
This story was told during the last year of Jesus’ public ministry, the year of controversy. The Jewish leaders were actively seeking an excuse to silence Him. Jesus is teaching in Judea and a large crowd is present. The point of the story is God’s great disappointment and coming judgement of the Jewish nation.
There are some important lessons here for us. God expects us to bear fruit for Him and sometimes I fear He is disappointed. Let’s examine the story point by point.
I. Care. God has lavished great care upon His people:
A. Just as the owner in Jesus’ story had cared for the tree.
1. Planted it in a choice place - a vineyard. Obviously in land that could have produced a profitable crop of grapes.
2. He watched over it three years. Gave every opportunity.
3. I expect he cultivated and fertilized it carefully.
B. Consider how good God has been:
1. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him. Even life itself.
2. The good times outnumber the bad and He brings us through the bad ones.
3. He sent His Son to die for us so we might enjoy eternity with Him.
II. Expectation. He provides these blessings expecting something in return:
A. The farmer had a right to expect fruit from his tree.
1. Because he had cared for the tree.
2. Because that is the function and nature of a fig tree.
3. Jesus is saying God has a right to expect some fruit from His people. Rom. 7:4
B. What kind of fruit does God expect from us?
1. Obviously, the "fruit of the Spirit" i.e: personal character development. Gal. 5:22
2. "Goodness, righteousness, truth." Eph. 5:9
3. This glorifies God. Phil. 1:11 John 15:8
4. Every good work. Col. 1:9, 10
III. Disappointment I pray He will not be disappointed in us:
A. The farmer was disappointed in his tree:
1. He had a right to expect fruit and there was none.
2. Presumably, he had done all he could. The fault was with the tree.
3. Normally, trees have no control over their care. They are at the mercy of weather, soil, etc.
B. This is where the analogy breaks down. We control what we do.
1. God has blessed us in every way. We have no one to blame but ourselves for fruitlessness.
2. We all remember how it bothered us to disappoint parents. How much worse to disappoint the Heavenly Father.
3. It is amazing we have power to disappoint or please the Creator of the universe.
IV. Anger. The disappointment may be followed by anger.
A. We can almost hear it in the farmer’s voice. V. 7
1. He has wasted time on it. Three years.
2. He has wasted resources. The soil.
3. Now it takes space that could produce grapes.
B. His judgement; "cut it down. I’ve given it enough time."
1. Just as God has given us thousands of years.
2. Expect judgement if we disappoint God. Heb. 10:24-27
3. This is a parable of judgement aimed at the Jewish nation and at us.
V. Intercession. A Savior has interceded to give us one last chance.:
A. It would have been sensible to destroy the tree.
1. Justice demands the unfruitful die. Even in nature a plant must produce seed. It’s God’s plan. Gen. 1:11
2. The gardener interceded. He is a figure of the Christ Who intercedes for us.
3. He also interceded to make salvation available to the entire Jewish nation and the world.
B. God sent His Son to intercede for us:
1. He has blessed us with many additional advantages; His Church, His Holy Spirit, II Pet. 1:3
2. But, the final responsibility is still ours. "If it bears fruit next year. . ."
3. Mercy itself can’t succeed if we don’t respond in faith and obedience.
CONC.: The next opportunity you have to bear fruit for Jesus may be the last. The next time you hear the Gospel may be the last chance to claim Jesus as Savior. What will you do?
Jesus’ story is one of both judgement and grace. God, in His grace, wants to help us avoid judgement.