Bible Society of South Africa

Mercy extended – 1 March 2022

By Xanthe Hancox

Bible text(s)

The Parable of the Unfruitful Fig Tree

6Then Jesus told them this parable: “There was once a man who had a fig tree growing in his vineyard. He went looking for figs on it but found none. 7So he said to his gardener, ‘Look, for three years I have been coming here looking for figs on this fig tree, and I haven't found any. Cut it down! Why should it go on using up the soil?’ 8But the gardener answered, ‘Leave it alone, sir, just one more year; I will dig round it and put in some manure. 9Then if the tree bears figs next year, so much the better; if not, then you can have it cut down.’ ”

Luke 13:6-9GNBOpen in Bible reader

We are all fruit trees planted in God’s garden. But we are useless if we do not fulfil the purposes of our Creator. God has a right to examine us, to investigate our fruit-bearing history. He has a right to expect us to be fruitful.

In this parable the landowner is taking stock of his vineyard to see how his trees are doing. After several years, it’s starting to become clear that the fig tree is never going to bear fruit, and so the owner demands it be cut down.

People can become like that fig tree too. We can become so caught up in our own lives that there is no fruit remaining to benefit others. We dry up like a dead old tree and all that remains are the ugly branches of criticism, cynicism, and pessimism.

What a scary thought that God’s own people can become like that. But the caretaker holds out hope: “I’ll dig around it and fertilize it,” he says. Jesus is not finished with the deadest of human beings.

I know that God isn’t finished with me. Just as Jesus was raised from the dead, so life can return to a barren tree. Maybe you have given up on people – or on yourself. The caretaker says, “Give it another season.” Begin again and fertilize your relationships. Pray; offer someone a word of encouragement; nourish a friendship that has withered. God extends his mercy to us every day so that we can live for him.

Prayer: Lord, extend your mercy to us and renew us. Fill us with new life by your Holy Spirit. Amen

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