“Then Jesus told this story: ‘A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed. Finally, he said to his gardener, ‘I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s just taking up space in the garden.’
‘The gardener answered, ‘Sir, give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. If we get figs next year, fine. If not, then you can cut it down.’ “
I’ve kind of lost track of where exactly on the map Jesus is in this chapter and who exactly he’s talking to, but it seems safe to say that he was teaching people who regularly farmed their own food. (Didn’t everyone back then?)
From the commentary I’ve read, the man is suppose to represent God, we are the fig tree and the gardener is Jesus, advocating and extending grace. When I look at it from that angle, my heart pulls at this verse:
“I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer.” Jesus wants to help us succeed. Satan wants you to feel judged, pressed on and choked by God’s tight leash. But we read here that Jesus wants to come alongside us and help us grow and become more successful as godly fruit-bearers. Do you garden? Think of how much time and energy goes into it. Watering. Tending to the branches. Protecting it from weather. Giving the soil food, nutrients to help it grow brighter and stronger. We are under perfect care. Even when there’s a drought, strong winds, enemies that infest and attack (wow the gardening analogy really works on anything), we have a Gardener who wants to give us special attention!
If you’ve believed in God a long time and desire to become more like his son Jesus, there should be fruit in your life. Sometimes I panic and feel buried by expectations when I don’t feel like I’m bearing any of the fruit listed in Galatians 5. When I’m still an impatient person, when I don’t feel like I’ve grown in selflessness at all. But this verse tells us we just need more Jesus. More time with him, and more of his grace and forgiveness that is abundantly available to us.
Praise God for his son Jesus, the perfect Gardener who advocates for us and takes on our failures and shortcomings.