This passage starts with a narrow focus on tragic loss of life of a few and ends with Jesus using a parable about fruit to talk about humanity.
Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’
8 “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”
This passage starts with a narrow focus on tragic loss of life of a few and ends with Jesus using a parable about fruit to talk about humanity. As you can see in the passage, people told Jesus about tragedies that occurred recently – Galileans who were preparing sacrifices near or in the temple were slain by the governor Pilate, and also other people who died in the tower accident. Jesus’ response to the people is “unless you repent, you too will all perish”. Jesus tells us to consider our own souls first and explains this through a parable. Jesus tells of a fig tree expected to bear fruit, but no fruit is yet seen. In the big picture, Jesus is talking about all humanity, including us, bearing fruit.
What is fruit-bearing anyway? Gospel writer John states “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5). John clarifies it is the work of God in us that helps us to grow in Him and His love, not our own efforts. God equips us to love Him and love other people, something we would not desire without His help.
Jesus calls us to bear fruit and describes the consequences for the fig tree lacking fruit – it will be cut down. At the same time, Jesus highlights the mercy we are shown, that there is still yet time to repent and let the man dig around the trees and fertilise them. What a beautiful reflection of the Gospel message in one short parable. Even though we have done nothing to deserve God’s mercy and everything to deserve God’s judgment, He is patient with us and shows the great love He has for us by blessing us with opportunities to grow in Him.
Head: Can I imagine myself as the fig tree in this parable? This presents a challenge to reflect on – am I bearing fruit as I am following Jesus?
Heart: Am I trusting in Jesus to bring about this fruit as He works in my heart by His Spirit?
Hands: How can I encourage someone by telling him or her the fruit I am seeing in his/her life that he/she may not see in his/her self? Is there someone whom I trust, who can tell me about fruit I am bearing, that I might not recognise myself?
Thank you, Jesus, that by Your death and resurrection, we have free access to the mercy we need to receive forgiveness and to be changed by You.
Help me to not be quick to judge others, but instead help me to see my own sin and areas of my life that still need to change.
Please enable me to remain in You, and I trust that by remining in You, I can carry out the good deeds You have prepared me to do. Help me to encourage Christian brothers and sisters by letting them know about the fruit that I see in their lives.
In Jesus name I pray.
A song to listen to: Raised with Christ
Living Church Creek Road