The Patience of God
Read Luke 13:6-9 (ESV)
And he told this parable, “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”
How does this parable illustrate the great patience that God exercises towards us?
Sometimes, kids test their parents' patience. They want to see how far they can push it before they’ve pushed it too far. They know their parents love them no matter what, so they sometimes presume upon the patience of their parents and take it for granted. At some point, they push it too far. They’ve had enough time to listen, and they deserve to be disciplined.
In today’s passage, Jesus tells a parable about God’s great patience for His children, but it also comes with a warning. In Luke 13, Jesus warned his listeners to repent, specifically, the nation of Israel. Jesus frequently used the fig tree as a symbol for Israel (Matthew 21:19, Mark 11:14).
They were God’s children. His chosen people. And yet, they had largely abandoned Him. As a nation, they were not following Him as they had been taught.
In this parable, we can picture God the Father coming to the nation of Israel, expecting to see the fruit of repentance. He continually came over the course of 3 years looking for fruit but He never found any. So, He declared that because it was useless and was taking up space, the fig tree, or the nation of Israel, should be cut down immediately.
But then, we see Jesus step in an intercessor. He pleads on their behalf to have just one more year. He also promises that He will dig around it and fertilize it. He is going to care for it and provide the best possible conditions for thriving. After being tended to for a year, if it still doesn’t bear fruit, it will be cut down.
Throughout Scripture, we see God’s patience. He sends prophets to warn His people all throughout the Old Testament. They preach the need for repentance. Turn back to God and you will be spared! Sadly, over and over again, we see the nation reject the prophets and reject God Himself.
But at this point, the Father had sent them God Himself in the flesh. He lived among them for 3 years. And yet, many did not repent. In Luke 13:34 Jesus laments over Jerusalem for that very reason: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”
Jesus pleaded on behalf of the very people He knew were going to kill Him because He longed for their salvation. 2 Peter 3:9,15 says: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promises as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance...and count the patience of our Lord as salvation.”
Jesus does not want anyone to perish so He intercedes for us. Hebrews 7:25 says: “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”
In 1 John 2:1, John wrote: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
We know that “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 103:8). We know that Jesus advocates for our salvation. But that doesn’t mean that we should presume upon His grace and mercy. At some point, time is up. When Jesus returns, will He find the fruit of repentance in you? Don’t wait until it’s too late. Draw near to God through Jesus Christ today, friend. Repent. Turn from your sins and accept the grace and mercy of God.
Lord, thank You for Your patience. You have been more than gracious and merciful to me. I confess my sins and turn to you, God. Through Your Son, Jesus Christ, I ask for your forgiveness and grace. Thank You for the promise of salvation. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
If you found value in this post, please share your comments, questions, and prayers with us!Discipleship Tip: Sharing is discipleship. Invite a friend to join you each day for a morning coffee and conversation about God. Click the sharing button below to get the conversation started.