Tuesday 15 March 2022


Luke 13 v 5 to  9.  NLT: New Living Translation

No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too.” Then Jesus told this story: “A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed. Finally, he said to his gardener, ‘I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s just taking up space in the garden.’ “The gardener answered, ‘Sir, give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. If we get figs next year, fine. If not, then you can cut it down.’”

Much of the profound teaching which Jesus gave was in the form of parables in which he took normal life scenes which people could understand, and convey messages to all His followers. We too can benefit and learn much from studying that teaching.

I would like to turn to some of those parables in the coming weeks, and start with one which is the declared reading for this Sunday’s gospel.

Whilst I was reflecting on this parable of the fig tree, and all Jesus was meaning, it seems as if we have drifted so far away from all that God gave us, to live in a wonderful world, full of beauty and goodness, with the opportunity of being able to live a fruitful life.  As we look at how a minority of people have forced a standard of behaviour that is contrary to all decency and respect, we realize the task before us.  

We live in what was once a Christian country, and many people want it still to become, rather than the godless nation it has become where all absolutes have been abandoned.  The spiritual and natural way of life God created, is being turned over and discarded.

We belong to Churches which have set aside the guidance God, set out in His Word, and His means of grace, and ignored the call for repentance and failed to ask for forgiveness.

The parable should make every Christian feel sorry and ashamed, as they consider how the teaching of the Christian faith with sound doctrine, has been abandoned with Churches openly adopting services contrary to the Bible, and calls to disregard Scripture are led by the leaders of the Church.

God gives spiritual privileges and expects returns.

Jesus compared the Jewish Church of His time to a fig tree planted in a vineyard.  This was likened to Israel, separated from other nations of the world by the law of Moses, and the position of the land.  Things were done for them favoured by God, which were not given to other countries. It was right and proper for them to produce fruit to God’s praise.  It was expected there would be faith, penitence, holiness and godliness.  That is what God looked for, the owner of the tree bearing fruit.

We should see the Christian Churches showing light, truth, doctrines and precepts, with God expecting fruit.  We have Bibles with the liberty for the gospel to be preached, although we have a government at present debating whether we will be allowed to give sound doctrine. The country which at one time took the gospel to the world, has to rely on preachers from mission lands to come and convert us.

 We must never forget the countries in the world where other faiths operate in opposition to the Christian gospel, and the Christian people who face such challenges. They suffer mentally, spiritually and physically in places. We tolerate other faiths, and accept their right to hold different beliefs, but this tolerance is not always reciprocated.

These are solemn truths. Few things are so forgotten as the close connection between privilege and responsibility.  We bask in a peaceful land, and we need always to have in mind our brothers and sisters in other places. We are accountable to God for all we enjoy, but to whom much is given, from them much will be expected. We are a blessed nation with a fig tree planted in a vineyard, and the Master expects some fruit.

Jesus telling the parable, speaks of the owner having no fruit, and describes the owner ordering the destruction of the tree.  He brings in a plea for the tree to be given another year, and the parable ends with the command, if it bears fruit well, if not cut it down.

This is a warning to Christian Churches. If sound doctrine is not being taught, if people do not live holy lives, they are in peril of destruction.  God is always observing and taking notice of our ways.  Some Churches have much ceremonial practices, to which they give much attention to the cost of  Bible teaching. This puts in line for destruction. This happened to the Jewish Church, forty years after the ascension of Jesus.

If anyone doubts this could happen to us in dear old England, just consider how many Anglican and Methodist Churches have closed in recent years, when all the liberal influences took over. 

The Bible states, there is one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one BAPTISM.  So why has the Church of England created a second baptism for the benefit of those who have changed their gender from how God made them?  Why has the Methodist Church taken up same sex marriage without seeking approval from ALL members before doing so?  The fig tree in such circumstances has withered without producing fruit.  The axe is ready to fall the tree.

The parable has a warning for all who are partly Christians, and there are many in the Church who are, to let it be impressed on them that they go, and are meant to give attention.

I preached at a Methodist Church last year on the theme ‘all Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness’.  After the service a lady came to me and referred to the American President at that time, calling for capital punishment for men who had gunned down Jewish worshippers. She asked me if I agreed with him, and I replied I did fully and told her the Bible authorized it should be so.  She said but that was in the Old Testament. I had to remind her the verse I preached upon said ALL Scripture, and the Old testament was included.   Yet another example of part reference to the Bible, and hearing what one wanted to hear.  Remaining in the vineyard without fruit.  Hearing the gospel being preached without embracing it.

People may not commit open sin, but do nothing for God’s glory, there is nothing positive about their faith. Well may the Lord say, I come seeking fruit from the tree, but find none so cut it down.  Never be content to attend Church and just sit in the congregation, hearing sermons without applying the message is an affront to God.

We learn finally what a debt we owe to God’s mercy and the intercession of Jesus.  The lesson from the pleading Lord shows God’s loving kindness, and the mediation of Jesus.

Mercy has been called the attribute of God.  Power, purity, justice and holiness, wisdom unchangeableness, are all part of God’s character, and have all been made known in His Word.  But of all His  perfections which he is pleased to show, is mercy.  This is founded on the mediation of a coming Saviour.  Mercy is how God has put up with a sinful world without giving judgement.  People have no conception of what we all owe to God’s mercy.


May God bless His Word to us, and His Holy Name be praised.

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