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 LUKE 13:6-9

"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. 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? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down."

 

 

 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
II Timothy 2:15

 

 

LESSON 1, INTRODUCTION:

We are abut to examine an unusual subject in the Word of God. Yet rest assured, Scripture will handle it tactfully and properly.

Jesus is teaching.

"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. 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? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: and if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down." Luke 13:6-9

The commodity that drew me to this portion of God's Word is "dung." That's our word for "fertilizer" or "manure," something to organically boost the growth of a living flower or plant or tree.

Some Bible teachers believe Luke inserts this story instead of the one about Jesus cursing the fig tree. Both Matthew and Mark tell of that event, Matthew 21:18-22 and Mark 11:12-14 and 20-25.

If so, Luke is here emphasizing grace, one more year of grace!

Either way, Luke's account, or the Matthew/Mark account, the Holy Spirit is the Author of the Bible. It's all divinely inspired., without error.

Also some Bible teachers believe Jesus is alluding to a short illustration in the Old Testament prophecy of Micah. "Woe is me! for I am as when they have gathered the summer fruits, as the grapegleanings of the vintage: there is no cluster to eat: my soul desired the firstripe fruit." Micah 7:1

Earlier in Luke Jesus also seemed to be quoting Micah. Let me show you. "The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law." Luke 12:53

Compare to Micah 7:6. "For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man's enemies are the men of his own house."

Jesus was a student par excellence of the Old Testament! Both as God, being omniscient, and as man, being dedicated to the Torah as a Jew.

Probably, at least technically, our Text here in Luke 13:6-9 points to the Nation of Israel. Again, that's prophet-like! It will take you a few seconds, but read Isaiah 7:1-5. "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: 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. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. 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? 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: 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. 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." Isaiah's vineyard is clearly a "type" of Israel!

Don't ever tell me that Jesus does not respect the authority of Scripture! He preached it all His earthly life! Even our Lord's "illustrations" were Biblical.

In fact, Luke 13:6-9 has a "double" hint of things Jewish in its first verse. Both a vineyard and a fig tree are noticed.

Israel's is God's Old Testament "vineyard."

And Israel also is God's "fig tree!"

Tomorrow, the Lord willing, we shall being our journey through this little sermon of our Lord's.

This little "earthly story" with its "heavenly meaning!" That's the definition of a parable they taught us when we were children.

And Jesus was, quite simply, the greatest Teacher Who ever lived. On that we can all agree!

Let's sit in His classroom the next few days and learn from the Master, the darling Son of God.

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2, VERSE 6:

The Parable we are studying is brief, only four verses long. This just might give us the luxury of looking at its preceding context. Maybe there we shall find a "hint" to help us interpret this beautiful little Story Jesus taught.

"There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. 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? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." Luke 13:1-5

Then Jesus illustrated with the "dung" parable, our actual Text for a few days. "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. 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? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: and if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down." Luke 13:6-9

Now, let's compare and contrast these two Passages.

The certainty of judgment looms in both pictures.

So does the value of "reasoning" with God, respectfully, of course. "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Isaiah 1:18

Notice too that in the first situations, both with an angry Pilate and with the fallen tower, no "adversary" or "mediator" appears. That's not the case with the fig tree!

But, presumably, in both paragraphs "repentance" is a necessity. It's plainly stated in one and latently implied in the other.

Then, the Lord explains the "meaning" of Verses 1-5, but not necessarily in Verses 6-9. He lets us get it on our own, with the help of the Holy Spirit of course.

We probably need to notice these preceding Verses, that's 1-5 again, because the very definition of "parable" demands such.

"He spake also this parable ...." Luke 13:6a, as they say. The very first clause in our Text.

"Parable" translates its namesake, "parabole." It just means something that has "been thrown" ("ballo" in Greek) "alongside" ("para" in Greek) another like thing, usually for illustrative purposes.

So, we "place" Luke 13:6-9 beside Luke 13:1-5, and doing so has helped!

When I first began studying this morning, Luke 13:1-5, I could not "make sense" of it, not like I should have.

But now that I have "compared" or "thrown it down right beside" its neighboring verses, things are beginning to fall into place!

Jesus surely, among other truths, is here also emphasizing the essence of God's Grace!

Pilate slew some, many others lived.

The tower crushed eighteen to death. It probably "missed" that many too, maybe even more.

The fig tree was as good as "gone," until a caretaker volunteered more time to "save" it.

All typify grace on the part of Almighty God!

Come to think of it, so does the account that follows this farm story, this "don't cut my tree 'til I dung it" event.

Read it please. It has "Grace" written everywhere! "And Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day. The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day? And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him." Luke 13:10-17

Wow!

Verses 1-5, no mediator!

Verses 6-9, a human mediator!

Verses 10-17, Jesus as Mediator, God the Son!

Verses 1-5, Grace implied.

Verses 6-9, Grace offered.

Verses 10-17, Grace opposed.

We have lots to study here!

Lord willing, another Lesson tomorrow.

In the meantime, try to "learn" the Story, Verses 6-9. Either get it by heart, word for word; or in essence, the general idea anyway.

One more time, it's so brief. "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. 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? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: and if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down." Luke 13:6-9

Lord, help us to learn the truths you have embedded in this Parable. In the words of the Psalmist, we pray: "Open thou our eyes, that we may behold wondrous things out of thy law."

Amen!

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3, STILL VERSE 6:

Luke tells us of Jesus: "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. " Luke 13:6

The verb "spake" is "lego" in Greek. It just means "to speak, to tell," the utterance of some form of communication. But here, amazingly, it's framed as an "imperfect" verb, sort of a "tense" marker, had we been studying English.

"Elegen," the exact form of "lego" used here, means that Jesus' speaking was not just over and done the second this sermon ended! He did complete His thought. In fact, He may have never told this exact Parable again. But the "implication" of an imperfect tense verb is that the action has lasting consequences! The story never looses its power! It impacts lives yet today!

And this particular "tense" is often used of God's Word, the Bible, very often! It is now two thousand plus years old, yet as fresh as the morning dew! It's also eternal, having been perennially established in Heaven!

God's Word, including this little parable, never quits teaching!

It is complete in content, no more Scripture is being written! Do not expect a 67th Book! But it is not complete in power and ability to change lives! Those things are perpetual!

Jesus "spake" unto them this parable!

"A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. "

One of the earmarks of any parable is that the person therein remains anonymous. He is just a "certain man." If a proper name is given in a suspected parabolic Text, it is not a parable!

Luke 16 is not a parable. Hell is a real place, not a figurative mindset. There was a real rich man who was lost. And a real beggar named Lazarus who was saved. See that proper name please.

"Certain" translates "tis," simply meaning "someone." Here it's in the masculine gender. So, we're dealing with a man.

He is the vineyard owner. It clearly says "his" vineyard. That means he owns the fig tree also.

Additionally, the owner, the lord of the manor, oversaw the "planting" of his fig tree! The verb "had" suggests such supervision, "echo," meaning to "hold on to" something. Tight control!

"Planted" is "phuteuo," from an original verb meaning "to puff up, to blow out, to swell!" That's what happens when the seed germinates and grows!

"Planted" here is a perfect participle. We are being led to assume that this tree once planted, kept reproducing itself. That's true scientifically. And grammatically, in this case.

But what good would a fruitless tree have been?

The word for "fig tree" is "suke," from "sukon," merely a "fig." In the New Testament "suke" appears 16 times, all being translated the same way, "fig tree."

And it is usually taught that the "fig tree" is an emblem for "Israel." Assuredly this is so. In Joel 1:7 God Himself is upset over the way the Jews have been treated, the Nation of Israel: "He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white." God just called Israel "My fig tree!"

Case closed.

Well, Israel also was God's "vine!" God's vineyard, the work of His Hands, the "planting" of His design! If you have time, see Isaiah 60:21 and 61:3, both as examples.

Jesus is preaching to the Israelites directly.

And to us Gentiles indirectly.

After some time, the fig tree obviously having grown, the owner seeks fruit. The verb "seek" is "zeteo" and can mean "to crave." However, in its strongest sense, it means "to demand" something too.

The Lord likes figs!

Our God loves to see "fruit" in our lives!

Fruit for His enjoyment!

For His consumption!

But, alas, there was "no fruit."

"Ou," here spelled "ouch," is the Greek prohibitive that is absolute! Not a fig on the whole tree! This little particle is often used in questions where a positive answer is expected, but not given!

His mouth, the owner's, may have been watering. All available evidence suggested that the tree would have been "loaded" with fruit!

But not so!

Are we glorifying our Lord today, specifically by bearing fruit?

That "fruit" in our lives can be twofold.

Souls brought to our Lord, reproduction in kind. This is like a fig tree duplicating itself, another little tree growing nearby! But the owner here is not looking for little trees nearby! His taste is piqued!

The other possible fruit scenario, the Holy Spirit "growing" into our lives, is likely meant here.  You know, the Spirit's sweet "fruit" of love and joy and peace and longsuffering and gentleness and goodness and faith and meekness and temperance. Galatians 5:22-23

This is particularly what our parable today is emphasizing.

Wow!

Be a soul winner.

Be sweet and joyful, too.

Fruit.

"A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. " 

Don't disappoint your Lord!

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4, VERSE 7:

It's amazing how even a glance at a verse of Scripture sends all kinds of "signals" to the Believer in Christ.

The Holy Spirit seems to overflow us with information and motivation and sometimes, exultation.

For example, just as it stands, Luke 13:7. "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?"

The "speaker" is the landowner. The whole vineyard belongs to him, including the fig tree of course.

The expression "dresser of his vineyard" translates a single Greek noun, "ampelourgos." Here are blended "ampelos," meaning a network of "vines," and "ergon" meanng "to labor." This man is a "farmer" of grapevines, a specialist in this area of agriculture. He also is an employee of the owner, either as a free man or as a slave.

This "vine-worker" is very important in our little parable here because he becomes the "intercessor" for the fig tree. I think this is going to end up being a "type" or "symbol" of praying for the little Nation of Israel.

The imperative "behold" is "idou," primarily meaning "look." It can be rendered "see." Often the King James Text has "lo" as well.

The noun "fruit" is "karpos," meaning "produce or results or harvest or grain," most often being some edible item. Once Paul mentions a man, a Believer, named "Carpus," this exact noun! A Christian named "fruitful!"

Two verbs, "seeking" and "finding," show hunger on the part of the land owner. He's actually craving these non-existent figs! Examination, scrutiny, and observation are insinuated here as well.

The man desires figs, and his farm has disappointed him!

On top of all that, this is the third time he's looked for a harvest! The first thing about this whole verse that impressed me was the land owner's patience. Three years!

I am told that a fig bush needs to grow and mature and might take that long to bear fruit. But all of them, unless a major problem exists, should be fulfilling their purpose by the third year.

No rush to judgment here.

And since land space in ancient Israel was so precious, the area a "fruitless" tree occupied could be put to much better use!

A fig tree hardly exists for shade purposes!

Or fire wood!

It needs to bear those sweet little morsels of delight, for deserts and pies and preserves and here, "snacks!"

Then comes the more definite order, "Cut it down." One word in Greek, "ekkopto." The root "kopto" is "to cut," with the prefix, "ek" meaning "out of" or "away from."

Remove the tree!

Needless to say, the verb is an imperative, a stark command!

Apparently nearby ground was fertile enough to produce results, gapes or other figs. At least to the point that this particular tree seemed to be the problem. Not the weather or the earth or the employees.

"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?"

The verb "cumbereth" is "katargeo," with "argeo" meaning "to be idle or inactive." Then at times "to linger, to delay." The prefix "kata" just intensifies the root meaning. This tree has been really inactive!

And maybe just for information purposes, "ground" is spelled "ge," the heart of our word "geography or geology, the "earth."

A decision has been made.

Based on finance.

Based on practicality.

And maybe, just a little bit, based on the owner's frustration. He has that right, you know.

His farm is meant to being him delight.

Christian friends, do you see the lesson?

Or is it a warning?

In John 15 Jesus teaches this truth more directly. "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away."

Fruit is our very purpose for existence.

Here, spiritually speaking, the fruit appears to be something sweet and nourishing and luscious, "figs!"

Another "fig tree," that kind of fruit, is not what the owner has in mind, at least not at this time. We are not talking "reproduction" here. We're talking "overflow," reaching the God-given goal for one's existence. In fact, would a farmer even want a fruitless fig tree reproducing itself?

Yes, this is the fruit that's meant: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23

Or at least that's the way I see it.

And if a man or woman claims salvation, yet bears no "love or joy or peace or longsuffering" in his or her life, our Lord (like that land owner) surely is disappointed!

And something is wrong in that life!

Badly wrong!

Jesus again: "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples." John 15:8

Amen!

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5, VERSE 8:

These words were spoken by an employee to his boss. By a vine-worker to the land-owner. He is essentially pleading for the life of a tree, a fig tree!

"And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it." Luke 13:8

When you really think about it, this little parable is full of grace. Today's verse merely furthers that argument.

The verbal adjective "answering" incorporates the little Greek word "krino." It means "to judge or discern." The land farmer has carefully thought about what he's going to say! He is not answering this matter quickly!

He here avoided the pitfall of "hasty words." Solomon warned us: "Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him." Proverbs 29:20

Then notice what the vine-worker called his superior, "Lord." The word is spelled "kurios" and means "one with supremacy." It is essentially a term of respect and honor.

Here's the right way to ask for something, especially from one in authority!

Back to Proverbs. "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger." Proverbs 15:1

All the poor laborer wants is one more opportunity to "save" the fig tree! To spare its life. To allow it to fulfill the purpose for its existence.

And wisely, the farmer himself, if permission is granted, is going to do all the work! "Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it."

The plan is threefold.

1. Let it alone, please.

2. Allow me to dig about it, loosening the soil.

3. Then I shall fertilize it too.

Each step is critical to the tree's survival!

A man caring about a tree!

But, remember, that tree to Jesus and His hearers in this parable is a picture of Israel, the Nation.

Without someone's "intercession" and subsequent "labor," that tree would be no more!

God the Lord really wants people to plead for Israel!

"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces." Psalm 122:6-7

"For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth." Isaiah 62:1

"I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence, and give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth." Still Isaiah 62, this time verses 6 and 7.

Begging for the preservation and salvation of Israel, God's fig tree!

"Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved." This is Paul, in Romans 10:1.

Here he is again one chapter earlier. "I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh." In other words, Paul would have been willing to die and go to Hell, if God would have only saved Israel at that time! Romans 9:1-3

And, back to the parable, the vine-dresser, he only asked for one more year of grace! "Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it."

One never knows how much time he or she has left!

Twelve months!

A four-season cycle!

Only fifty-two weeks, short weeks!

The verb "dig" is "skapto," found only 3 times in all the New Testament. All these are in Luke, too. A man digging a foundation for his house, Luke 6:48. And the questionable steward in Luke 16:3, who could not dig!

It's work, digging!

Hard work!

Preparing soil!

Trying to make bad dirt into good dirt!

And for the verb "to dung," the word the Holy Spirit gave Luke is "ballo." All it means is "to throw." However, with "kopria" as its object, a noun meaning "manure," the fertilization process is being described. To drop something in the soil that's been loosened! To add some type of catalyst to help the tree bear fruit!

And what might that be?

Again, it's fertilizer.

Animal waste, manure.

Tomorrow, Lord willing, more about that "dung."

Without it, the fig tree likely is not going to survive!

Do I care about God's Fig Tree?

In Joel 1:7, God, while clearly talking about Israel, said of an enemy: "He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white."

If a person hates Israel, God promises him or her trouble!

Curses!

See Genesis 12:1-3. Plainly God pledges to Abraham and his seed, his generations: "And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee."

And question two from today's verse, do I realize the length to which God wants me to go just to bear more fruit to His Name?

A full year!

Digging!

Adding dung!

Waiting!

Watching!

Hoping!

Why?

Because fruitlessness in a life is not a good thing?

In fact, in Jesus' great parable of the seed and the sower, Matthew 13:3-9, "no fruit" meant no real life!

Fruitless christians may not even be real Christians, not at all!

Think about it.

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 6, STILL VERSE 8:

The word is "dung."

I can only find Jesus using it one time in all recorded Scripture. And even that occasion involved His teaching a parable.

A parable about a fig tree located in a vineyard.

Here's an employee talking to his employer. The one in authority wishes to eliminate the fruitless fig tree. The earth-worker asks for a few more months to do one more thing. "And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it." Luke 13:8

The grammatical construction here translated "dung it" is "ballo kopria." Literally it means "to thrown manure" into the loosened ground around the fig tree in question.

I've been thinking overnight about this Text.

Usually "dung" is something to be removed, the sooner the better. The Old Testament has whole units of "law" teaching the Israelites how to do so, especially as they traveled from Egypt to Canaan. See Deuteronomy 23:13, for example.

Paul takes all his human accomplishments, impressive as they are, and calls them nothing but "dung!" That is, when compared to a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ! "Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him." Philippians 3:8

In the days of Nehemiah, as that spiritual giant rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, one of the gates that had to be repaired was the "dung" gate! "But the dung gate repaired Malchiah the son of Rechab, the ruler of part of Bethhaccerem; he built it, and set up the doors thereof, the locks thereof, and the bars thereof." Nehemiah 3:14

This was the location where trash and refuse and garbage were removed from the City. It was a vital part of their sanitation program! Needless to say, such a program is necessary for any municipality.

Yet some Christians do not seem to have a corresponding spiritual "dung gate" in their lives. Countless believers have not confessed and forsaken a sin in years! No "purging" for them, thank you!

Then likely, they are, as Jesus said: "Whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness." Matthew 23:27

We need to live clean lives!

To the Glory of God!

Using 1st John 1:9 very often!

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

All I've said today is true, Biblically true.

No doubt.

But here in our Text, Luke 13:6-9, this little parable about the fruitless fig tree in the vineyard, "dung" is treated as something helpful!

Oh, it's still vile.

It yet must be removed from sight.

But it is not without some beneficial qualities.

When it's "buried" anyway!

"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. 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? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: and if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down." Luke 13:6-9, the whole thing.

The hope, obviously, is that the "dung," the "manure," will serve as a fertilizer for the tree!

Nudging it to bear fruit!

Sparing its very life, in reality!

Giving it greater purpose!

We have, I think, a spiritual principle here. The more "trash" I can get out of my life, the more "dung" of sin and transgression and failure ... the more "fruit" I can bear to the Glory of God!

That is, if I treat that "dung," that "filth" properly.

If I grieve over having to "forsake" those dirty little habits, no progress will come.

If I refuse to "quit" those things, no progress will be made in my Christian journey. And, of course, no fruit will be borne either.

However ... if I eliminate the spiritual "dung," whatever God might reveal it to be, and "bury" it wherever God says, get ready!

Growth is on the way!

That stuff, having been removed from one's life, works best when buried!

It's veritable "fertilizer" for spiritual growth!

"Fruit boosters!"

When Paul that day "discounted" his heritage and nationality and tribal identity (being an Israelite of the Tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew and Pharisee), the Apostle "enhanced" his relationship with Jesus Christ!

He says so! "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings." Philippians 3:10

Paul, having treated as "dung" certain things in his life, was on his way to super-fruitfulness!

An hundred-fold, you might way!

Or more!

I'm sure there's more to this "dung" principle that we've discussed today, but this is enough to get us started.

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you something in your life that needs to "go!" To be treated as "dung."

Then, confess it. Get rid of it. Bury it. And let the benefits begin.

In the process, expect more fruit in your walk with the Lord.

"Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24

Amen!

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 7, VERSE 9:

The whole story hinges on the word "fruit."

In fact, it could be called the "parable of the unfruitful fig tree."

In the final analysis ...  "And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down." Luke 13:9

The little tree's very existence depended on that fruit!

That's why we Christians are on earth, too!

To bear fruit.

The alternative, to be "cut down."

And "ekkopto" means "to cut off, to cut away, to cut out."

This sounds severe!

"No fruit" renders the professed Christian useless.

But look at the verse's first half. The landlord said: "And if it bear fruit, well." Luke 13:9a

That is, since its soil has been reworked.

And the root system fertilized.

Let's see what it will do!

The owner is keenly interested.

So is our Lord, carefully watching us for any signs of fruit!

"And if it bear fruit, well."

The verb "bear" is lovely. It's "poieo," really meaning "to build or produce or fashion." But it can implicitly mean "to make something lovely, beautiful, pleasant," Add  "poetic" too!

Any fruit you bear, any kind in any amount, if it's to the Glory of God ... it is absolutely gorgeous in His Eyes!

"For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister." Hebrews 6:10, He will never overlook it!

Furthermore, that verb "bear" or "poieo" is framed in the subjunctive mood. It's not a definite thing, the fruit!

It "may" be.

The vineyard owner is expressing his hope, his strong desire, his deep longing!

God loves that fruit!

And the word "fruit" is a noun, spelled "karpos." It is believed that "karpos" is derived from "harpazo," a verb meaning "to snatch, seize, to carry off by force!" Picture "picking" the ripe sweet fruit, in a hurry.

Speaking of fruit, there's a man in the New Testament named "karpos," really "Carpus." You might even say his name is Mr. Fruitful!

And what did he do to be so blessed, so honorably named?

He took care of Paul's outer coat, his "cloke," and some of his books too! "The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments." That's the only time "Carpus" is mentioned in the whole Bible, 2nd Timothy 4:13

Take care of the Preacher, even in some small way, and you will have borne fruit!

According to John 15, here's the Lord's desired sequence in fruit-bearing: "fruit," then "more fruit," followed by "much fruit!"

God the Son likes fruit!

So does God the Holy Spirit! "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance." Galatians 5:22-23

What about God the Father?

"Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples." John 15:8

The Trinity is impressed by fruitfulness!

A branch can't be truly tapped or grafted into the True Vine ... without something happening, without sap flowing, without fruit being grown!

The "well" in  our half-verse today reminds me of Jesus' words in Matthew 25:21. "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord."

Oh, to please Him on that Day!

"And if it bear fruit, well."

Barren believers?

That's an oxymoron I believe.

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 8, STILL VERSE 9:

Our Lord was not a "lukewarm" Person!

Colossians 3:23 could have well served as His motto. "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily."

Listen to this short sermon. "Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire." Matthew 18:8-9, Today's "laid back" world would call such an attitude "extreme."

Here's Jesus at another fig tree, different from the one we've been studying. Watch His response. "And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!" Matthew 21:19-20

A "hint" to this "red hot" lifestyle Jesus pursued might be found in Matthew 11:12. "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force."

Some things are worth drastic measures!

And eternal issues must be included in that list!

Come to think of it, it was the Lord also Who said to one of the seven Churches of Asia Minor: "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." Revelation 3:15-16

Maybe these examples can help us "fix" Luke 13:6-9 in our minds and hearts. Watch what the landowner is going to do to the "fruitless" tree in his vineyard. It's pretty drastic. He's be in trouble with the "green" folks today! The environmentalists! "And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down."

Cut it down!

The verb is "ekkopto," decimate the thing!

Cut it off!

Away with it!

It's stealing nutrients from the earth, food that could be used by other fruitful vegetation!

Now, don't misunderstand me.

Based on Matthew 13:3-9, it's not necessarily "how much" fruit one bears unto the Lord, whether an hundred fold or just sixty fold or even as low as thirty fold, but simply the fact that he is not barren!

He's doing something for the Lord!

Anyone who "professes" salvation, much like that fig tree "professed" figs, and lacks the "goods" to verify that profession, the accompanying "fruit," that person well may be in danger of the judgment of God!

Christian friend, are you being fruitful?

For Jesus' Sake?

Peter even wrote these words to Believers. "For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins." 2nd Peter 1:8-9

Be careful!

The Lord is serious.

For the saved man or woman, "fruit" is necessary.

It's really unavoidable.

It's a result of the indwelling Holy Spirit in our lives.

No fruit, no Spirit?

No Spirit, no salvation!

Think about it.

                                                                         --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 9, CONCLUSION:

Today is the last Lesson on this little parable, the unfruitful fig tree, the one in a vineyard. Our Lord was the perfect Teacher.

"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. 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? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: and if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down." Luke 13:6-9

Let's gather some "fragments" as we journey through this Text.

Someone pointed out to me that the owner was just looking for "fruit." We are not told that the fruit had to be ripe! It does not say that he wanted to eat the figs, not for certain. Our Lord also does not demand "maturity" from us, not at first! Little growth is better than no growth! And sparse fruit is better than no fruit! Don't disappoint your Lord. Be filled with the Holy Spirit, Who will ultimately produce fruit in your life.

The vinedresser is an intercessor, too! "Lord, let it alone this year," he pleads! Thank God for prayer warriors! He sort of reminds me of Jesus, too. That's Jesus our Great High Priest, Who "ever liveth to make intercession for us." Hebrews 7:25

Then look at the "digging." If that little fig tree had feelings, what a cry it would have made! Ripping into the soil nearby, tearing some precious roots too, no doubt! Uncomfortable! No, painful! But it must be done, to spare its very life! To bring that much-wanted fruit! And God sometimes must "stir our nests," simply in order to help us grow. "As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: so the LORD alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him." Deuteronomy 32:11-12

Then comes the "dung." Waste, manure, refuse, filth, but even such as these have their benefits. They can fertilize, in spite of themselves! And the spiritual lesson here just might be that the more "garbage" a Christian clears out of his or her life ... the more blessings God will send! The more fruit he or she will bear! Let's live "clean" lives to the Glory of God!

And just how did this Story end?

Does the fig tree please its Master? Is the vinedresser successful in his labor? Is fruit, maybe even a plenteous crop, on the way?

We are not told.

It ends much like the Parable of the Prodigal Son, us not knowing if the older brother got "right" or not.

Much like the Book of Jonah, too. Did Jonah sit out there and "pout" for the rest of his life? Or did he repent and get "sweet" again?

Even the Book of Acts comes to an abrupt close!

Some stories God does not want to end, not yet.

And therein is the point.

Whether or not I bear fruit is somewhat up to me! I must follow the Holy Spirit, yielding to Him daily. Whether or not I live a bitter or sweet life, that's dependent on my repentance or lack of it. So with my anger and pouting and service for the Lord.

Am I willing to obey my Lord?

Are you?

Lessons from a fig tree in a vineyard!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

One more thought!

And it just "clicked" in my mind. I just "saw" it. Things just "fell into place." I believe I see something Jesus is doing here. It had to be the Holy Spirit Who showed me this.

In Luke 13:6-9, which obviously follows Luke 13:1-8, Jesus quite possibly has been quoting John the Baptist. Well, perhaps not quoting verbatim, but alluding to his preaching anyway.

Watch.

"There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." Luke 13:1-3, notice the capitalized words. This is what John the Baptist preached again and again! Repentance! "In fact, this was his Message. "In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, and saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Matthew 3:1-2

Then, still in Luke 13, this time verses 4-5. "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? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."

There they are again, those same words. John the Baptist style!

Now let's quickly go to our Parable again. You remember the essence of it, I'm sure.

What was it the landowner wanted?

He wanted "fruit" from his tree. And we struggled a bit defining those "fruits." Was it soul-winning fruit? Which I suspect would have been pictured as other little fig trees growing all around. Or was it "Fruit of the Spirit" produce, love and joy and peace and all the rest? Fruit or fruits growing right out of, from within, the tree?

Now, here's the kind of "fruit" Jesus had in mind, almost for sure! Quoting John again, preaching to the Pharisees and Saducees as well as all the people: "Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance." Matthew 3:8, fruits that are indicative of a change in one's heart and life!

That's what Jesus meant too!

And if not?

Concerning the fig tree?

If no fruit "came," Jesus had the owner, "John-the-Baptist" style command: "Cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?" And where did John ever preach such a thing? Matthew 3:10, for one place: "And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire."

Wow!

Four places where Jesus has "touched" on John's Ministry, apparently even using his material! Of course, it was God's material first!

This is a case of Scripture interpreting Scripture. Jesus and John the Baptist, the same Message!

This was quite a lengthy "one more thought." But it's worth it if you're going to preach or teach this little portion of God's Word.

 

                                                       What a parable!

 

 

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