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. 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?’Luke 13:6-9 NIV
“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”
If you plant a fruit tree in your yard, it is only natural to expect it to produce fruit for you. But what if it does not? What if, despite the best care, it fails to produce fruit year after year? That is the situation the man in this parable of the fig tree was faced with. And he was ready to cut down the worthless tree and start over. But his gardener convinced him to give it one more year.
This is a nice story, but what is the point? What was Jesus teaching when he told this parable? The fig tree represented unfruitful Israel, and the land owner was God, who had been caring for Israel for many years. The parable was a warning to Israel that their time was growing short. They were in danger of being chopped down if they did not become fruitful.
But the application of this parable is not limited to first-century Israel. It is just as applicable to God’s people today. He provides and cares for us. But how much fruit does he get from us? Is he happy with our productivity? Or are we in danger of being cut down?
Jesus’ teaching in John 15:1-8 is relevant to this parable of the fig tree. He compares himself to a grapevine and his disciples to the branches of that vine. If we remain in him, connected to the vine, then we will be fruitful. So stay connected to Jesus, keeping him at the center of your life. Let his life flow through you. Be faithful to him. And you will be fruitful.