There is a lot going on Luke 13.
As Jesus introduced in Luke 9, he was on his way to Jerusalem (9:51) and in 13 we keep moving closer and it is still on Jesus’ mind (see 9:31-35).
In the time I have I would like to reflect on Luke 13:6-9.
6 Jesus told this parable: “A man owned a fig tree planted in his vineyard. He came looking for fruit on it and found none. 7 He said to his gardener, ‘Look, I’ve come looking for fruit on this fig tree for the past three years, and I’ve never found any. Cut it down! Why should it continue depleting the soil’s nutrients?’ 8 The gardener responded, ‘Lord, give it one more year, and I will dig around it and give it fertilizer. 9 Maybe it will produce fruit next year; if not, then you can cut it down.’”
The first 5 verses of this chapter provide the context of this parable of Jesus. Jesus tells a few stories of people experiencing something harm/destruction. Jesus then uses this refrain in 13:3 and 13:5:
I tell you, unless you change your hearts and lives, you will die just as they did.
The parable is the way of telling the same point as 1-5.
There is a time and season for a change.
Change is not an option when you are following Jesus.
If you do not change your heart – produce fruit – you will be cut down.
The fig tree in Jesus’ parable was given 3 seasons to grow and then the master said – enough is enough. But the gardener says, one more season. I will dig around it and give it fertilizer. Maybe next year, it will produce fruit, but if not, you – the master – can cut it down.
The application here can go a few ways. I believe both are legitimate and helpful.
1. There is a delay that we collectively are in right now. A delay might not be the right word, but there is a time where the tree is given more time to grow and produce fruit. And yet that time is limited. It will have an end. If the right fruit – a changed heart see verses 1-5 – then you will be cut down. So humanity as a whole has/is being given the opportunity to change their hearts. 2. A more personal application. There is a call to change or repent. We have to do this if we are going to follow after Jesus. Not an option to keep the same heart and say yes to Jesus. Our hearts have to change. They have to turn towards Jesus. If they do not, it will not end well for us. So the invitation and the opportunity are given to us. We have to accept the invitation here and now. There is an urgency that we need to hear and hold on. There is a limit to the time period that Jesus gives to the tree to turn our hearts around.
It is worth saying again:
The parable is a way of telling the same point as 1-5.
There is a time and season for change – the opportunity and invitation are given to us.
Change is not an option when you are following Jesus. We have all have to change.
The fruit of a changed heart is not only possible, but it is expected.
Have a Great Good Friday.
Kevin A. Parido