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A fig tree....

“Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 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? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

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?’

“‘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.’” (Luke 13:1-8)

Remember, Jesus told the parable of the fig tree right after some folks questioned him about some human tragedy that just took place in the city. The events and the parable are related.

First there was a question about the “Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifice”. We don’t know exactly what event he was talking about here, but those listening were well aware of what occurred. The nation of Israel was ruled with the iron fist of Rome, and the one in charge was Pilate. He was ruthless and cruel with the people. Something happened that caused him to kill some folks in Galilee and mix their blood with the blood of a sacrifice . We do have one piece of history, about the same time that Jesus was speaking, where “Pilate wanted to build an aqueduct from the Pools of Solomon to the city of Jerusalem. To pay for it, he demanded money from the temple treasury, money that had been dedicated to God-and this outraged the people. When the Jews sent a delegation to beg for their money back, Pilate sent into the crowd soldiers dressed as common people, and at a certain signal they took out daggers and attacked the people asking for the money.” Like I said, Pilat was mean and unscrupulous.

It might not be what Jesus was referencing, but you get the idea of how brutal Pilate could be. The man could not have cared less about the life, death or shed blood of Galileans—-and he would prove that later when he had Jesus, an innocent man, flogged and crucified to protect his own political ambitions.

He asked them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans” So bad things happened to somewhat “innocent” by-standers. One was caused by the hand of man, and the other was a natural disaster—perhaps one of the earthquakes common to the region, like we’ve been hearting about in Turkey and Syria recently. But eighteen folks died when the tower in Siloam fell upon them.

It’s not biblical, but most of us think of people as either being good or bad. If you’re good, you live happily ever-after, you’re blessed, affluent, protected, and that everybody likes you. If you’re bad, well, bad things happen to you—-you deserve the hardship that come your way. This way of thinking is more of an eastern religious type—-“Karma”, “fate”, “re-incarnation” and that sort of stuff. But on more than one occasion Jesus dispelled that kind of thinking.

He remarked that the Galileans in question were neither innocent or guilty. They were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s often how life is. We live in a fallen and fragile world where things like this happen—but these bad things would not have happened in a sinless world.

But here’s what we need to read and understand carefully. Jesus said, “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” He makes the tragedies very personal and tells the listeners they will each perish, i.e., cease to live……unless they repent.

So this must have caused them to stop, dead in their tracks, and say, “What does He mean?” That’s the power and point of parables! You’re forced to ponder the meaning and meekly ask the teacher, “What does this mean for me?!”

Jesus did not waste words or speak of things just to tease or torment us. Just like those that died by natural disasters or the criminal minds of others, each if us could die at any time, so a sober reckoning of your ability to stand before God and enter into eternal life is your top priority! Are you ready??? Those who died in both of these instances did not think they would die soon, but they did, and we can suppose that most of them were not ready to stand before God! Are you, right now, ready to stand before Him? Marion was—-so was Tommy Johnson, Jack Hall and many others that have passed away over the past two years in this little fellowship.

There are, of course, two kinds of repentance in the Blble: the "once and for all" repentance for salvation, and a continuing life repentance—for sanctification.

We live in a bad place and time right now.. First, those in authority over us can do some pretty bad things to us—and it’s happening right now with criminals, drug dealers, and some pretty awfully laws being passed. But if not from other men, there’s always nature itself that can destroy you. Again, tower collapsed near the time Jesus was talking and killed 18 people. And the folks that heard Jesus speak, right then, would witness within a few years, the total and absolute destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Romans. Many that listened to Him that day were probably among the hundreds that were killed later by the Roman soldiers.

But the following verses, the parable, are best understood in the context of what He just spoke regarding repentance—-the once in a life time variety as well as the continuous repentance that is connected.

So again here’s the parable: "A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, 'Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?' But he answered and said to him, 'Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.'"

The man in this parable, the owner of the vineyard, is God. Hear this: He is the owner of this earth, all things that breath and move and our very souls——-and He expects FRUIT! Like it or not!

He paid for the tree, He planted it, He financed the care of the tree and got nothing in return! Cut it down and plant a tree there that will produce fruit.: After He said this He must have looked at them with eyes that were a bit haunting and warned them: “unless you repent you will all likewise perish”. Jesus used this parable to drive the point home in a very existential way: You are here to produce fruit or you will be replaced. The point is simple: God looks for fruit.

Here’s the message for you….and me. We’re all creatures of God—-and we are His highest creation; if we choose, we re able to become more than just creatures, but adopted sons and daughters! But He is examining, during our lives here, this very day, the quality and quantity of fruit we bear—-just like a man that planted an orchard of fruit trees. (e.g. of my 25 apple tress new apple trees.)

The fruit of our live shows what kind of person we really are. An apple tree will bring forth apples, not watermelons. If our lives have really been touched by Jesus Christ, it will show in the fruit we bear, even if it takes a while for the fruit to come forth. Are you bearing fruit or are you barren? That should cause some of us pause. It’s so strange that mankind thinks that being good, or coming to church, or giving tithes, or praising God somehow keeps Him alive and allows Him to keep on blessing us—as if He could not carry on were it not for our indulgent kindness and acts of charity to Him!

Good grief, He needs nothing (Psalm 53) and He will be no less God and no less secure, complete and “God” if we do nothing the entire time we live on this earth. Bearing fruit, which is producing in our lives the actions, emotional responses and decisions, that are in keeping with the kind of “tree” we are, merely proves we ARE a part of God and His Kingdom work. Not producing fruit just shows that we don’t know anything about spiritual horticulture!

So what fruit is the man in the parable is y looking for? Something edible and pleasing to the senses of smell, taste and appearance. Think about your own life, my friends, are your actions, thoughts and responses pleasing to Him? Is the way you treat others a sweet aroma to Him? Are the things you meditate and dream about tasteful for your Creator and Heavenly Father?

Paul says that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. But being fruitful is more than that. A fig tree is supposed to produce figs.The farmer wanted the fig for one of two purposes—-to eat or to use the seeds to plant more fig trees. God is patient with us (“look, for three years I have come seeking fruit”), but we’re supposed to be about the task of brining to God something that delights Him and something that He can use to make an even grander garden. Again, God’s patient and is even willing to give us a second chance, but there’s a reckoning coming for all of us.

Our fruitful purpose is two-fold, as sons and daughters of God: Repent (turn away) from those things that are contrary to our “being” as children of God, and to turn to those things that are pleasing to Him.

Once we come to God, He’s not going to leave us alone (until we start bearing fruit! He will prune us, and cut things away until we start producing, or we will be a barren tree that is worthless. He will offer special attention and care — and He is gentle and kind, but beware, of assuming that He’s not paying attention or watching—-He is.There are consequences for ignoring God and His call to repentance and bearing fruit—the two go together.

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