March 22, 2022



Luke 13:1-9 

Jesus often taught in parables and stories, using topics that his audience would understand. In this week’s scripture, Jesus is in conversation with a large group of people. Someone in the group asks Jesus about a specific incident involving some Galileans whom Pilate killed while they were offering sacrifices. Jesus’ answer implies that the askers were making the assumption that those who were killed were ‘bad’ – they had sinned – and therefore maybe they deserved to die. Jesus follows up with another example in the same line of questioning – so you think those people who were killed by the falling tower were guilty as well? Then Jesus very pointedly lets us know that just because someone isn’t killed, or ‘punished’, it doesn’t mean they haven’t sinned. In both examples, he reminds us that we are to change our hearts and lives, or we too will suffer a ‘death’.   

Then Jesus does what he does best, he answers their question by telling a story. He tells the story of a landowner who is frustrated that there is a fig tree in the garden that is not producing fruit. In fact, for 3 years there has been no fruit! So, he tells the gardener to cut it down.  But the gardener says, ‘let’s give the tree one more chance – let’s give it one more year and let me care for the soil and make sure it has the nutrients it needs, and then we’ll see if there is fruit.” 

Why did the gardener think he could make a tree produce fruit that hadn’t for 3 years?  I did a little research on fig trees.  Do you know that the most common reason for a fig tree not producing fruit is, simply its age?  Typically, a fig tree will not fruit until it reaches two years old and can take as long as 6 years! One article said “time and patience” are the only fixes for this. The other most common reasons for not producing fruit are insufficient nutrients, and too much or too little water. It seems the gardener was very familiar with the growing patterns of fig trees and knew what it needed – care and time.  


Perhaps this is what Jesus is saying we need in order to change our hearts and lives – some care, and some time. We need to care for our hearts and minds by spending time studying the scriptures, and other disciplines such as prayer, worship, or service. And we need to be patient with ourselves, knowing that by doing the caring, in time, we will produce fruit.