31 Days of Questions: Day 18


“Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?”       Matthew 7:16

One summer a farmer friend brought over a load of manure to put on our new garden.  We worked that “organic material” into the soil and then planted the seeds.  By mid-July, the garden looked incredible — especially the tomato plants.  Those Beefsteaks and Big Boys grew as tall as me with huge stems and lush green leaves.  By mid-August, our well fertilized plot looked like the Amazon jungle.

There was only one problem: not one tomato.  All that tending, staking, and weeding with nothing to show.  No BLTs, no salsa, no spaghetti sauce.  How disappointing.

Jesus said to watch out for people who resemble my tomato plants — pretty impressive at first glance, but on closer inspection, no fruit on the vine.  We are to recognize the true character of people by looking at what kinds of qualities they produce.

Which is why you can’t pick grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles, no matter how much manure you spread around.

31 Questions

Camping Under a Fig Tree

There are many ways to create interest and inject life into daily Bible reading.  Here are two of my favorites:  asking questions of the text, and googling.

Parable:  “A man had a fig tree, planted 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

  First question:  Why did the man plant a fig tree in his vineyard?  A vineyard is a place for growing grapes, not figs.  A tree takes up lots of room.  I googled “How to Grow a Fig Tree”, and a gardening site said a fig tree needs 10 feet on all sides cleared.  That’s a lot of grape vines.  The man must have really wanted some figs.

Second question:  Were the man’s expectations realistic?  He’d been waiting three years to eat a fig.  I googled “Fig Production”, and a fruit tree site said typically a fig tree produces fruit in two years, so it seems reasonable to be looking for something to sink his teeth into by this time.

Third question:  Why wasn’t the tree producing any fruit?  A vineyard is a carefully cultivated and fertile spot, enriched with all the nutrients it needs to bear a crop.  Here’s where it gets good.  I googled “How to Make a Tree Bear Fruit” and a diy.com video held the secret.  According to the expert, trees that don’t produce fruit  just require some stimulation to get in reproductive mode.  “What the tree needs is to feel threatened,” said the expert, (I’m not kidding) “and the tree will think, ‘Uh oh, I’m going to die, so I’d better produce some fruit.'”  At this point in the video, the expert picks up a baseball bat and instructs us to “whack it upside the trunk a few times, six or eight times.”  After the whacking is demonstrated he assures us that “now the tree knows it is under attack and that’s ok because that will stimulate the production of flowers and fruit next year.”

The man with the baseball bat set me to thinking…

What is the lesson here?  Chew on it awhile.  What do you think?