Here’s an interesting question by the disciples with Jesus response …
Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Matthew 13:10-16 (ESV)
The disciples eyes, ears and understanding were blessed by being in the presence of Jesus and having Him explain the parables to them. For the modern day born-again believer, that same blessing comes through the teaching of the Holy Spirit. We must seek to understand God’s message in the parables … and throughout Scripture.
We encountered the following parable in our family devotion time Thursday night. After we read through it, I asked my grandson the following questions … and I pose them to you …
- What is the vineyard?
- Who is the fig tree?
- Who is the vineyard owner?
- Who is the keeper or gardener of the vineyard?
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. 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?’ “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’” Luke 13:6-9 (NIV)
First, a few notes: In the New Testament, Biblical scholars believe the fig tree is representative of Israel … supposedly based on Joel 2:21-25. Certainly that is possible, but my interpretation is a bit different … and hopefully it is not my interpretation as much as it is the teaching of the Holy Spirit … oh, but the prideful flesh can be misleading. Also, based on some Internet research apparently it actually takes a new fig tree 4-5 years to begin producing fruit … which could also have a bearing on how the above is interpreted
Bottom line: By the Holy Spirit and according to the Scripture, test what I am about to share … everything I ever share here on the blog. Be a Berean!
No doubt there are some similarities between the parable above and the teaching on The True Vine in John 15. Our answers to the questions above are 1) the world 2) you and me 3) God and 4) Jesus. So with that in mind, read the parable again and see what you think …
Now this is where it really gets interesting to me … is the reference to three years a veiled reference to the length of Jesus’ earthly ministry? If so, then the fig tree symbolizing Israel may make more sense because Jesus Himself stated His earthly mission was to Israel (Matthew 15:24). Then the gardener’s (Jesus’) words about digging around and fertilizing the fig tree in the fourth year … seems to suggest that the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-13) after the crucifixion will indeed fulfill the desire of the vineyard owner (God) for the tree to be fruitful (John 15:8).
Anyway this whole interpretation is open to discussion … so chime in as the Lord leads!
The larger point in all this is that as born-again believers, IN and THRU the Holy Spirit God is blessing our eyes to see, our ears to hear and our minds to understand the Scripture … don’t waste the blessing you have been given by God!