Bible Study: The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree and The Call For Repentance–Luke 13:6-9
6 Then [Jesus] 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.’”
In the verse(s) directly preceding this Parable (Luke 1-5), Jesus makes a single point very clear: If you do not repent, you will perish (Luke 13:3, 5). Within five short verses, He repeats this statement twice. He then follows the warning with the parable of a barren fig tree.
Following with His ‘call to repentance’ (“If you do not repent, you will all perish“), the Parable of the Barren Fig Tree presents a story about the continuous patience God has with those of us who have not yet truly repented of our sins (see Luke 3:8). Some scholars believe the parable may also be alluding to the delay of the end times (when punishment will be meted out) so that we have additional time to “prepare” (repent). They believe God has possibly granted us a ‘merciful delay’ in the hopes that many will come to repentance before it’s too late. The delay, as we know, will not be permanent (v 8-9; see also the Book of Revelation).
In sum, the Parable at its core is about true repentance and the mercy of God. The Lord, in His great patience and mercy for mankind, extends ample opportunities for us to repent (ask for forgiveness and turn from sin) and to bear fruit (undergo conversion) – [see Psalm 1:1-6; Col. 1:10; Jn 15:8; Matt. 3:8]. However, if we persist in (and insist on) doing things our own way – outright refusing God’s love, forgiveness, and saving grace – then we will indeed perish by our own choice.
“Heavenly Father, thank You for Your patience with us. Thank You also for the gift of faith. Please continue to grant me the eyes to see, ears to hear, soul to believe and heart to love. Give me the strength to turn from sin and the courage to do Your bidding. Help me in my humility, Lord. Assist me in humble repentance. Lay upon my being the holy wisdom to seek You in all my ways. This is my prayer forevermore. In the precious Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.”