Chewing on Figs

Okay, I’ve been chewing long enough. Three posts have been written and deleted so this is my last ditch effort to make sense of this parable. Another good way to gain understanding when studying Bible passages is to look at the story from the different characters’ point of view. So, here goes.

The owner of the vineyard: God owns the vineyard and He can plant whatever He wants on His property. In fact, He appreciates a little variety and makes room in His field for a totally different plant. He provides all that’s necessary to promote growth and maturity. He checks in regularly to see how it’s going. He watches and waits for fruit, but is patient and willing to give it a reasonable amount of time. When no fruit appears, He allows the vinedresser to give the tree extra attention. But the warning is given: it there’s no fruit, cut it down.

The vinedresser: He is the keeper of the vineyard, not an orchard specialist. Even so, he bargains for time with the owner in hopes of bringing about a harvest. The vinedresser may be a pastor, teacher or spiritual leader. He is willing to put in overtime to tend to this beautiful but barren member. He pleads for the life of the plant before the Owner. His plan is to fertilize by offering another Bible study, planning another retreat, praying harder for another year. Although it is frustrating to let this tree absorb all the nutrients out of the soil, he continues working to get the desired result.

The grape vines: It’s a stretch to consider the vines as “characters”, but humor me. The vines are the producers, the ones actually accomplishing what they were meant to do; the ones you can count on year after year, the faithful bearers. They are probably not happy that a tree is leeching all the nutrients out of the ground, soaking up all their minerals. However, they refuse to produce sour grapes because they desire to please the Owner. Even though their vines are scraggly compared to the tree trunk and their leaves are not as profuse and lush as the tree, they are content to know the will of the Owner and fulfill His purpose for them.

The fig tree: From its earliest days as a sapling, the tree has been given the very best of everything. It has gown up in a safe environment with all the opportunities a fig tree could want. All its needs have been generously met and it has had a good life in the vineyard. From a distance, the tree looks to be healthy and strong.  However, when the Owner looks deeply into its showy leaves and sees there is no fruit, he is deeply disappointed. A stay of execution is given, but at some point, if the tree remains fruitless, it will become firewood.

The man with the baseball bat: (not in the Bible story, but in the video)  Sometimes the conditions are just too good for a tree’s own good. Hopefully, the man with the bat will come alongside this tree and give it six to eight good whacks to get it thinking. It usually works for me.

Fruit is the point. Fruit is the purpose. And that’s all I have to say about fig trees.

3 thoughts on “Chewing on Figs

  1. So nice to see you writing!

    I like the parables – for their capacity to ask deep questions of us, to open up unexpected issues, to set our minds thinking, our hearts feeling and our spirits searching for truth.

    I know you said you were done chewing on figs, but here’s another possibility for the parable: What if God is the fig tree and humanity is the vineyard owner? Sounds like people… if God doesn’t perform to expectation, come up with the goods chop-chop, then we’re done. Maybe Jesus is the gardener pleading with people to try to understand the ways of God and not be so quick to give up on God or each other?

    • Jan! You found me! I quit the facebook thing. Never got the hang of it. This is more my speed. So glad to hear from you! Katie has been giggling over my letters ever since she got them. How sweet of you to have kept them after all this time.

      I liked your perspective on the fig tree. More chewing….

      Keep in touch!

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