“Sir,” the man replied, “leave it alone for one more year.” Luke 13:8
Usually fig trees, when properly cultivated, yield fruit. “He who tends a fig tree will eat its fruit,” states the writer of Proverbs (Proverbs 27:18).
In a parable Jesus speaks of a fig tree that for several years had disappointed its owner. No figs! So he ordered it cut down. But the vinedresser interceded for the tree, asking that it be spared for another year. In the meantime he would tend it carefully. If it then yields fruit, fine! If not, well, it will be soon enough then to remove it from the vineyard.
Jesus did not tell stories just for the sake of stories. His parables made a point pertaining to God’s kingdom. Here the point is that for a long time God had expected His chosen people, whom He “planted” in the land flowing with milk and honey, to bear the fruits of obedience and faith. But such evidence of spiritual life was largely absent. He considered bringing His people under final judgment. In his time, Moses interceded, asking for more time and even offering to have his name expunged from the book of life if thereby Israel could be spared (Exodus 32:32). Then came Jesus at the fullness of time. He desired that the time of grace be extended. To His intercession He added intervention. He went all the way to Calvary’s cross for the salvation of all. Then He rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sent the Holy Spirit as promised.
Jesus pleads for us today when we are unfruitful. Saint John writes, “If anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2). What is more, Christ has sent – and still sends –His Holy Spirit to intercede for us “with groans that words cannot express” (Romans 8:26). We have two intercessors, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, to give us prayer support.
PRAYER: Thank You, Lord Jesus, for redeeming me. Help me to be a fruitful Christian. Amen.
(Devotions from "With Jesus Every Day" copyright 1997, CPH. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be printed, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House. Permission is granted for one-time emailing of this link to a friend. For information on other devotional material, please contact CPH at 800-325-3040 or visit CPH at www.cph.org.)
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