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What does this parable mean?

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Luke 13:6-9

The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree

6 He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 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 [a]use up the ground?’ 8 But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. 9 And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.’ ”

 

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31 minutes ago, naominash said:

Luke 13:6-9

The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree

6 He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 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 [a]use up the ground?’ 8 But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. 9 And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.’ ”

 

The fig tree is like a Christian.  It is expected that a real Christian will bear fruit.  This person is bearing none, so they are on the verge of being cut down or cut off, losing their salvation.  There is a point where God's longsuffering ends.

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Hosea 9:10 (NASB95)
10 I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your forefathers as the earliest fruit on the fig tree in its first season. But they came to Baal-peor and devoted themselves to shame, And they became as detestable as that which they loved.

This is also why the Lord sought pre-seasonal figs on the tree he cursed for he found none. 

Mark 11:13–24 (NASB95)
13 Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.
14 He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His disciples were listening.
15 Then they came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves;
16 and He would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple.
17 And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a robbers’ den.”
18 The chief priests and the scribes heard this, and began seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for the whole crowd was astonished at His teaching.
19 When evening came, they would go out of the city.
20 As they were passing by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up.
21 Being reminded, Peter said to Him, “Rabbi, look, the fig tree which You cursed has withered.”
22 And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God.
23 “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.
24 “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.

Jesus sought those who knew the signs of the times and that the scriptures about his messiahship were being fulfilled... and aside from the Hosanas on Nissan 10... there were none.

 

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13 hours ago, naominash said:

Luke 13:6-9

The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree

6 He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 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 [a]use up the ground?’ 8 But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. 9 And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.’ ”

Shalom, naominash.

JohnD is closer so far. This is Yeshua` prophesying about Israel in that generation. For three years, He offered them the Kingdom of God, that is, God's Kingdom once ruled over by His emissary (mashiyach = "anointed one"), David the King, and they REJECTED IT! They REJECTED HIM as their King! They were given one more partial year to accept Him, and they still failed to do so. So, for 3.5 years, He extended His offer of the Kingdom, but they refused, and finally, for their abominations in that rejection, He rejected THEM!

Matthew 23:37-39 (KJV)

37 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. 39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord."

And, that was that. They proceeded to crucify Him, and He postponed the Kingdom until they can say,

"Baruwkh haba' b-shem YHWH." (Psalm 118:26)

This was translated here as "Blessed [is] he-that-cometh in-[the]-name of-[the]-Lord." But, it literally means "Welcome the-Comer in-name of-YHWH," or "Welcome, Comer on the authority of YHWH." In other words, He would not return until they - the Jews of Jerusalem - could welcome Him back as the Messiah of God - God's Messiah or God's Anointed One, God's Representative to be their King!

THAT'S when Yeshua` shall return! THAT'S when God shall send Him back!

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Spurgeon:

When Jerusalem was to be destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar a former time, the prophets had not only spoken, but they had used instructive signs. If you turn to the Book of Ezekiel, you will there see the record of many signs and symbols which set forth the coming woe. These tokens excited curiosity, secured consideration, and brought home the prophetic warnings to the homes and hearts of the common people. Again, the judgments of God were at the gates of the guilty city. Words-the words of Jesus-had been wasted; and even tears-tears of the Saviour-had been spilt in vain; it was time that the sign should be given-the sign of condemnation. Ezekiel had said, "All the trees of the field shall know that I the Lord have brought down the high tree, and have dried up the green tree"; and herein was suggested the very image which was employed by our Lord. He saw a fig tree, by a freak of nature, covered with leaves at a time when, in the ordinary course of things, it should not have been so. Our Lord saw that this was a fine object lesson for him, and therefore he took his disciples to see if there were figs as well as leaves. When he found none, he bade the fig tree remain for ever fruitless, and immediately it began to wither. Our Lord would have used the fig tree to excellent purpose had he ordered it to be used a fuel to warm cold hands, but he did better when he used it to warm cold hearts. No wrong was done to any man; it was a tree on the waste, and utterly worthless. No pain was inflicted; no anger was felt. In the object-lesson, the Lord simply said to the fig tree, "Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever"; and it withered away. In this our Lord taught a great lesson to all ages at a small expense. The withering of a tree has been the quickening of many a soul; and if it had not been so, it was no loss to any that a tree should wither when it had proved itself barren. A great teacher may do far more than destroy a tree, if he can thereby give demonstrations of truth, and scatter seeds of virtue. It is the veriest idleness of criticism to find fault with our Lord Jesus for a piece of fine poetic instruction, for which, had it been spoken by any other teacher, the most lavish praise would have been awarded by these very critics.

The blighted fig tree was a singularly apt simile of the Jewish state. The nation had promised great things to God. When all the other nations were like trees without leaves, making no profession of allegiance to the true God, the Jewish nation was covered with the leafage of abundant religious profession. Scribes, pharisees, priests and elders of the people were all sticklers for the letter of the law, and boaster of being worshippers of the one God, and strict observers of all his laws. Their constant cry was, "The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, are these." "We have Abraham to our Father" was frequently on their lips. They were a fig tree in full leaf. But there was no fruit upon them; for the people were neither holy, nor just, nor true, nor faithful towards God, nor loving to their neighbor. The Jewish church was a mass of glittering profession, unsupported by spiritual life. Our Lord had looked into the temple, and had found the house of prayer to be a den of thieves. He condemned the Jewish church to remain a lifeless, fruitless thing; and it was so. The synagogue remained open; but its teaching became a dead form. Israel had no influence upon the age. The Jewish race became, for centuries, a withered tree: it had nothing but profession when Christ came, and that profession proved powerless to save even the holy city. Christ did not destroy the religious organization of the Jews: he left them as they were; but they withered away from the root, till the Roman came, and with the axes of his legions cleared away the fruitless trunk.

 

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Actually Cletus is correct.

First take the lack of repentance, and we see the message was already told by Jesus, that it is for you who hear now. Accept you repent, you shall all likewise perish. Jesus preached for three years, and His Gospel is to the world, and everyone who does not bear fruit is cut down. Yes the fig tree that Jesus cursed grew no fruit ever again, but Jesus came with that to earth and now on earth, all have the same teaching, warning and fate..

Malachi 4:6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

Matthew 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
36 And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.
37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

1 John 2:13 I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.

1 John 2:14 I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.

Luke 13:1 There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things?
3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?
5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
6 He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.
7 Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?
8 And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:
9 And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

Mark 11:13 And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.
14 And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.

Now consider the Lords vineyard. What could have been done more ? It shall not be pruned nor digged, it will lay waste and there shall come up biers and thorns. They do not know judgement, only oppression, no righteousness, only cries. Yes unfortunately, man thinks he can pass Gods judgement over to someone else, and he cant. This is entirely about those who think they are in Christ, and being impossible for them to rnen again to repentance, crucfying afresh the Son of God, this is them bearing thorns and briers, as they are not dunged any more, or pruned, not bearing fruit, boasting and will ALSO be cut down. Then the righteous shine forth, they delight in the abundance of peace when the non peace makers are no more..

Isaiah 5:5 Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill:
2 And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.
3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard.
4 What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?
5 And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down:
6 And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.
7 For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.

Hebrews 6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,
5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
7 For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God:
8 But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.

Matthew 13:40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.
41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;
42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Malachi 4: 1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
2 But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.

Psalm 37:11 But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

Psalm 72:7 In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.

Romans 11:22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

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I think the starting point for understanding should be the prior verses and chapters.

In the end of chapter 11, Jesus is eating with some pharisees and teachers of the law and pretty much ticks them off.  We then pick up as he leaves and starts speaking to the crowds and his disciples and the pharisees and lawyers.

53 When Jesus went outside, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions, 54 waiting to catch him in something he might say.  12 Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.  (Luke 11:53-Luke 12:1)

It is not completely clear if the intervening verses are a part of an ongoing scene which goes through 13:8 or if we are picking up various things   from a series of different crowds and gatherings.   The continuity however and the fact that 11:37 starts the events of this day and that 13:9 provides an explicit transition to a different place on a sabbath day suggests that 11:37 through 13:8 are connected in some way and may reflect a stream of things said on the same day.  It appears that sometimes Jesus was speaking to one group and then another on the particular day.

13 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 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? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”  (Luke 13:1-5 NIV)

6 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. 7 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?’ 8 “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’” (Luke 13:6-8 NIV)

These seem to provide a context where Jesus was speaking this parable to shed some light on His previous statements.  My sense is that 13:6-8 is either an illustration of why He responded as He did in 13:1-5 or that it is a capstone to the entire day starting back in 11:37 when He sat down to eat with the pharisees and lawyers or both.

My best guess on this is that Jesus is pointedly telling those in the crowd (likely including the disciples, some pharisees and lawyers, and a multitude) that they'd all better shape up because they didn't have forever to get right with God.  Starting with 13:1-5, we've got the train of thought that all are going to perish unless they repent.  He then provides the story that repentance will result in bearing fruit and that there is a limited amount of time for that to occur.

When looking at parables like this, I prefer starting with the context and trying to figure out what point He was trying to get across to that crowd on that day.     One thing I'd look at is what common knowledge of agriculture the crowd had regarding fig trees.  I did a quick internet search on fig trees since I don't know much about them.   Here's a statement from a page about growing fig trees:

You can grow a fig tree from the seed of a dried fig, but you'll be more assured of success with a plant from your nursery. Figs produce fruit within one year from planting. It's also easy to start new trees from cuttings or by notching low-growing branches and allowing them to form roots where the notch touches the ground, a process called ground-layering. Home growers frequently find “volunteer” fig trees sprouting up unexpectedly near to an existing tree.  (https://homeguides.sfgate.com/fig-tree-growth-51756.html)

Assuming the crowd was familiar with this, a story of a fig tree that didn't bear fruit for 3 years would immediately bring to mind something useless and unhealthy.  It would also bring to mind a very patient caretaker who was going to give something useless more chances than most people would.  I think a case could be made that Jesus was speaking this to the pharisees and lawyers to characterize what they were doing and tell them their time was short.  Perhaps He was speaking to the crowds about how lack of good deeds following repentance was like a useless fig tree.  I'm going to leave it at this point since I don't have more time to meditate on this.

It's possible to read some messianic allegory that God is the man with the fig tree, the fig tree is some group (perhaps the crowd, the pharisees, or all of Israel), and that Christ is the caretaker who was interceding for more time or some other type of allegory relating to Israel or their leaders.  However, I think context and trying to carefully consider what was going on is a necessary first step before moving to elaborate allegorical interpretations.

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The vineyard owner represents God

The gardener or vineyard represents Jesus Christ

The tree represents Israel or the individual 

Borrowed time is not important. God's patience has a limit. 

 

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Posted (edited)
On 6/5/2019 at 6:39 PM, naominash said:

Luke 13:6-9

The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree

6 He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 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 [a]use up the ground?’ 8 But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. 9 And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.’ ”

 

Firm Foundation and Cletus...both a good point. God will not strive with us forever. But the 3 years of lack of growth could also represent the nation of Israel that witnessed the miracles and presence of Jesus for His 3 year ministry yet refused to yield to the Holy Spirit...thus bearing no fruit to holiness.

 

We should take this as a warning...

Rom. 11:21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.
 

We are called in Christ Jesus to bear a spiritual and holy fruit. Many of us are called to it...but not very many of us will take this seriously and avail ourselves of His grace to actually do it.

 

 

 

Edited by Pekoudah
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