“…let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it…”
Gospel: Luke 13:1-9
1 At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. 4 Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.” 6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. 7 So he said to the gardener, “See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ 8 He replied, “Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’ “
In ancient times, people thought death was the result of sinfulness. The crowds asked Jesus if that was true. He replied that it was not true. The point Jesus did make, however, was that repentance was necessary for everyone. Jesus then gave the people an illustration of a fig tree that had not produced fruit for three years. The vineyard owner wanted the tree cut down, but the gardener promised to agitate and fertilize it for one more year. If, by then, it did not bear fruit, the gardener would cut it down. The main point is that with the correct nurturing, all may come to bear fruit.
Relating the Gospel to our lives today.
This is one of my favourite parables that Jesus told. The owner of the vineyard is God the Father, the gardener is Jesus and the fig tree is you! It uses the imagery of gardening very effectively to illustrate the fact that well-tended trees (or people) bear more fruit. It also reminds us that we are all sinners, and we must all repent.
Have there been times in your life when you have produced very little fruit? I think we can all admit to that! Have there also been difficult times in your life where you find yourself screaming at God “Why are you doing this to me?!” Well, at time like this you can realise that God is allowing your circumstances to be agitated just like the soil around the fig tree. And if that wasn’t enough, just when you think things can’t possibly get any worse, He goes and heaps a load of manure on your life! C’mon admit it – we’ve all suffered days like this! But the agitation and the manure are vital to the growth of the tree. Do we not learn most from our most difficult times? How else can we grow and mature than to go through unpleasant trials? Of course the end result of the agitation and the manure is a strong healthy tree who is now capable of producing good fruit – something it was unable to do before-hand. Through this simple parable we can begin to grasp the basics of the Christian view that all suffering has meaning and value.
- How do I respond when God agitates my soil?
- How do I respond when God heaps manure on my life?!
- Without these things, how can I bear fruit?
Give me the courage to suffer knowing that ultimately God is in control. If He is allowing me to suffer, there must be a reason – even if I can’t see it now. Help me to take this opportunity to draw closer to you, trust in you, and eventually bear good fruit.
Thank you, I love You Jesus, amen.