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)

  • A person, God Almighty
  • Had a fig tree - the Jewish Church
  • Planted in his vineyard - established in the land of Judea
  • He came seeking fruit - he required that the Jewish people should walk in righteousness, in proportion to the spiritual culture he bestowed on them.
  • The vine-dresser - the Lord Jesus, for God hath committed all judgment to the Son (John 5:22)
  • Cut it down - let the Roman sword be unsheathed against it.
  • Let it alone - Christ is represented as intercessor for sinners, for whose sake the day of their probation is often lengthened; during which time he is constantly employed in doing everything that has a tendency to promote their salvation.
  • Thou shalt cut it down - a time will come when those who have not turned at God's invitations and reproofs shall be cut off, and numbered with the transgressors.


  • Owner of the vineyard - the heavenly Father
  • The vinedresser - the Lord Jesus Christ
  • The vineyard - the world
  • The fig tree - the Jewish nation
  • Three years - the first three years of Jesus' ministry
  • Fruitlessness - Israel's rejection of Jesus
  • This year also - Jesus' final year of preaching
  • Thou shalt cut it down - God's judgment against Israel

There is nothing in this parable that requires us to consider that fig tree as being only three years old.  The Greek text in this place uses the past perfect "having been planted," that is, having been planted long ago in the call of Abraham.  "These three years" refer to the special anticipation upon the part of the Father that when the Son of God appeared Israel would receive and acknowledge him.  The whole history of the chosen people was epitomized by what took place in the ministry of Jesus.

Although the fig tree in this parable primarily stands for Israel, the fig tree symbolizes also every individual who remains unrepentant.  The lesson for the individual is that borrowed time is not permanent.  God’s patience has a limit.  In the parable, the vineyard owner grants another year of life to the tree.  In the same way, God in His mercy grants us another day, another hour, another breath.  Christ stands at the door of each man’s heart knocking and seeking to gain entrance and requiring repentance from sin.  But if there is no fruit, His patience will come to an end, and the fruitless individual will be cut down.  We all live on borrowed time; judgment is near.  That is why the prophet Isaiah wrote, "Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.  Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon."  Isaiah 55:6-7

On the Inside,

Pastor Pete