Promise of the Fig Tree
Luke 13:1-9 Repent or Perish
At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, ‘Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. 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? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.’
The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree
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. 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?” He replied, “Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig round it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.”
There are moments in our lives that we can feel like the barren fig tree. Perhaps in the wake of trauma or tragedy – we can feel like a fruitless tree. I know many of my colleagues have been remarking of late over “compassion fatigue” or the state when we become numb – because it’s just another shooting, just another accident, just another senseless life lost – we become numb and instead of even asking the question of “why” we instead utter, “so what?” Which is why Jesus is showing us a different way. I think Jesus is like the gardener in our parable, able to see what the rest of the world would rather do away with. For in the hands of God’s tender love, even the most barren and depraved situations turn into new life. The gardeners gracious answer, is always, let me tend to the needs of the tree. Let me work with it and nurture it, let me give it one more chance. When we place the raw and unfruitful parts of our lives into the hands of the loving gardener, we open the door to possibilities, to new life, to grace, and the love that only God could give.