The Barren Fig Tree

Israel was a garden, a vineyard, in rebellion against its owner; or, to change the metaphor, it was a tree without fruit, as Jesus said in another parable:

A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it, and found none. Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, "Look, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?" But he answered and said to him, "Lord, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it; and if it bears fruit, fine. But if not, after that you can cut it down" (Luke 13:6-9).

Jesus, the Lord of the Vineyard, spent the three years of His ministry traveling through Israel seeking fruit. Now it was time to "cut it down." John the Baptist had warned the Jews, even before Jesus began His office, that the vineyard of Israel was running out of time:

Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance. And do not think to say to yourselves, "We have Abraham as our father," for I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire (Matt. 3:8-10).

This was the problem with Israel. Even though the Jews welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem waving palm branches in recognition of His coming restoration of Eden (Matt. 21:8-9), the branches had no fruit. Interestingly, the same passage goes on to show what happened after Jesus left Jerusalem. As He walked, He came upon a fig tree and looked for fruit, but found none. So He cursed the fig tree, saying, "Let no fruit grow on you ever again." And immediately the fig tree withered away (Matt.

The same would be true of barren, unrepentant Israel.

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