THE UNFRUITFUL VINE
Study Text: Luke 13:6-9
He also spoke this parable: A certain man had a fig-tree planted in his vineyard.
And he came and sought fruit on it, and found none.
Luk 13:7 And he said to the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig-tree, and find none.
Cut it down, why does it encumber the ground?
Luk 13:8 And answering, he said to him, Lord, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and throw manure.
Luk 13:9 And if it bears fruit, well; and if not, then after that you shall cut it down.
- When we genuinely repent and begin living for God, fruit will be born in our lives that will soon be evident to all that pass by.
Likewise, a failure to repent and live for God will show a lack of fruit, equally evident.
- The presence or absence of fruit in the lives of those who claim to be God's people is an important issue in God's word.
"Bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance," said John the Baptizer in Matthew 3:8.
John records Jesus as saying, "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit."
"By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit..." said Jesus in John 15:8.
"Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire," said John in Matthew 3:10.
- Fruit - real and visible spiritual fruit - is a necessary concern for anyone who loves God and desires to go to heaven.
- We shall look at the parable of the barren fig tree.
In Jesus' day, this was a parable about the Jewish nation but it also contains some important lessons for us.
- The Biblical issue of fruit bearing and the principles put forth in this parable also apply to the church.
They concern you and me.
- Let's examine this parable more closely.
There are at least seven aspects to consider.
The Personal Possession.
- Verse 6 says that "a certain man had a fig tree."
There are actually two men mentioned in this parable: The owner of the vineyard (it says that he planted the tree in "his vineyard") and the vineyard keeper who was probably an employee of the owner in charge of doing the actual work.
- Cutting down the fig tree was a drastic action, but it was well within the rights of the owner.
It was his vineyard.
It was his tree.
He could do with it as he pleased.
- Suppose you decided to paint your house a certain color and someone came to you and objected, telling you he liked another color better and that you'd better paint it his color.
You would probably tell him to take hike.
Because it's your house, not his.
The right of ownership carries the right of determination.
- Likewise, since God owns the world and everything in it and He also owns each one of us, it is simply not right for us to object to His dealings with us or claim that He has "no right" to do this or expect that in our lives.
- He has every right to expect anything He chooses in our lives.
He is the owner.
Paul asks in Romans 9:20-21:
Who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?'" (NIV)
We live in a day when people "talk back to God" all the time.
Having long forgotten that they are His creation, they think they are autonomous and that God has no right to tell them what to do or expect anything from them.
Though they are in His vineyard and are, indeed, His possession, they don't act like it.
I think we can expect unbelievers to be this way, but surely such an attitude should not be found in the church!
Yet it is seen far too often.
One of the first things we need to teach every new Christian is what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20:
"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?"
- God has the right to tell us what He expects and the right to expect it and the right to deal with us as He pleases if we don't do what He expects.
He is the owner.
- We are going to learn from this parable that God expects you and me to produce fruit in our lives for Him.
I just want you to remember that such an expectation is well within the realm of what is right because we belong to Him.
The Privileged Position
Verse 6 says, "a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard."
- This fig tree enjoyed certain advantages not possessed by all fig trees.
Many fig trees grew along the roadsides.
They were, in essence, wild.
No one fertilized them.
No one cared for them.
They had to survive in rocky, shallow soil with sparse nutrients.
- But this fig tree was different.
It was purposely planted in a vineyard.
It enjoyed better soil.
The vineyard keeper watched over it and took care of it.
He fertilized it and perhaps even watered it during the hottest months of the year.
God had put His chosen people in a favored position.
He had lavished special care on them.
He had taken special pains with them.
He sent prophets to put in regular fertilizations of His word.
- Doesn't it seem rather obvious that He would expect a return on His investment?
Yet for all these advantages, the chosen people turned away from Him.
Ultimately, when He did not find fruit, their favored status was removed.
- But what about us?
Hasn't God lavished even more favor upon His church today - we have the Word of God in abundance - radio, television, print, cassette, CD, computer.
It's all around us.
- We have indeed been planted in a privileged place!
Yet have we produced appropriate fruit?
- Doesn't it follow that when the Owner of the vineyard invests so much in us, that there should be much fruit?
The Projected Production
- What was the expectation of the owner of the vineyard?
We read in verse 6: "...he came looking for fruit..."
- The fig tree in this parable had leaves.
A fig tree cannot survive without leaves.
But it had no fruit after three years.
- Israel was very religious.
It had lots of leaves.
In fact, you would be hard pressed to find a more religious nation anywhere than the nation of Israel in the time of Christ.
- Religion was at the heart of their national life.
Attendance to the temple services in Jerusalem was expected if not required.
- People regularly died for their nation and their religion.
Yet, as this parable prefigures, they had no fruit so they were cut down.
- Do you and I know the difference between leaves and fruit today?
- For all the religion and all the church going that still takes place in this country, where is the influence on the culture?
Where are the changed lives?
Why is honesty and honor in such short supply?
Where can you find people of real integrity?
- We often bemoan the direction our nation is going away from God.