When Mercy Quits Talking with Judgement
“When Mercy Quits Talking with Judgment” – Luke 13:6-9
Remember the lessons from vv. 1-5. Jesus tells a story to illustrate how we must change soon.
The Design of the Owner. The fig tree was “planted.” This tree began in the mind of the Owner. He chose the site purposely (in the vineyard) and gave the tree the best possible situation to grow and fulfil its purpose in life: bear delicious fruit. The language is precise—planted in the most favorable position by a deliberate act in order that He might ultimately enjoy its fruit. Compare Israel. Compare each believer: forgiven, indwelt by Spirit—to bear fruit of Spirit and reproduce (win souls).
The Disappointment of the Owner. Because he expects fruit, the Owner inspects. He came—God keeps up with us. Do you sense the disappointment of the Owner over the performance of the tree? He inspected and expected fruit for three years—3 years from time it became mature enough to bear. Without fruit for 3 years makes this tree barren, a dysfunctional fig tree. God looks for fruit in us—why not? We have resurrection life and are more than conquerors. Illus: Col. Sanders, of Kentucky Fried Chicken, would go into KY. Fried stores—find things out of order—make them do things right: “If this is going to have my name on it, it’s going to be done right!” I hear Jesus saying, “If you are going to claim MY name—I want you to do it right!” Surely He must be disappointed at some of us. Look at Gen.6:5-6.
The Destruction Ordered by the Owner. The Owner called his keeper and ordered the destruction of the fig tree. Two motives for this decision: (1) Poor Productivity—no fruit; (2) Pernicious Presence—why does it use up the ground. The tree was “cumbering”—taking up valuable space, wasting good soil, rain, and sunshine. Another tree could be there, bringing fruit and honor to Owner. “Be not deceived, God is not mocked.” We must not frustrate the grace of God. There are many living today who are taking out more than they are putting in—they are in danger! Lincoln said: “When I die, I want it said that I plucked a weed and planted a flower wherever I thought a flower would grow.”
The Delay Asked of the Owner. In spite of all its privileges (planted in an advantageous position with good soil, rain, sunshine, and care by Owner), there has been no sign of fruit. The Owner has come for three years, inspecting and expecting. He has been patient but the “Judge of all the earth will do right.” He makes a just decision when he says, “Cut it down!” However, the Keeper makes a strange request: “Let it alone.” He begs for mercy for the tree for another year in which he will dig around it (loosen the soil to let air to the roots) and fertilize it (dung it).
Illus: Go back to Israel. Chose them. Revealed Himself as to no other nation. Gave Word-Temple-Prophets. Wanted fruit of holiness & righteousness (wanted fruit of lost Gentiles). Israel rejected & persecuted His prophets. God gave them to two captivities. Finally sent His Son—they crucified Him even though He prayed, “Forgive them, Father.” He cut Israel down in AD 70. The unproductive tree is replaced by the Gentile Church who bears fruit.
Jesus is the interceding Vinedressor. Mediator. The working with the tree—grace and mercy of God. God sends contacts into our life, circumstances (even tragedies), and the goodness of God. Now God’s MERCY IS IN SERIOUS CONVERSATION WITH GOD’S JUDGMENT—holding it back. But, only God knows when MERCY WILL STOP TALKING and JUDGMENT WILL CUT DOWN!