28 May 2012

Luke 13:1-9

"Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig round it and put manure on it." (v. 8)


Today's passage gives a sneak peak at grace - the patience for, and the potential of a second (or another) chance, particularly after a disappointment. In the parable, Jesus uses the image of a fruitless fig tree, the anticipation of a vineyard owner and the response of his gardener to show just how grace works.

The brief exchange of the conversation gives some idea of the relationship between the two people mentioned in the parable. One was responsible for the vineyard and decided to plant a fig tree, while the other was accountable for the vineyard's success and whatever was planted in it. They both had the same expectation of the fig tree, a wide-growing rather than tall tree that would respond well to pruning and that which could produce an abundance of fruit. Their disappointment by its fruitlessness then is understandable, but their responses couldn't have been more different.

The owner's response to cut down the fig tree seems justified. After all, if there was no return on the investment, so why waste more time and effort on it? The gardener had another idea; a bit more nurture and support for a measurable period, in this case, a year. Now that sounds more gracious, doesn't it?

But look a little closer at the text. We're not told what the outcome of this fig tree was, possibly because this was not a horticultural or agricultural lesson. But if you can see God as the landowner, then you might just recognise the vineyard as the 'very good' world that was made in the beginning (Genesis 1). If you can see Jesus as the gardener, then you might just hear see him taking care of fallen humanity in that created world; and if you can see Church as the fig tree, then the poignant message of the second (or another) chance that Jesus provides for becomes clearer still.

From creation, God has been demonstrating amazing love for all creation, and through the Jesus, we now have the gift of amazing grace.

To Ponder

How have you responded when your plans have not worked out or you have been disappointed or let down by someone?

How have you benefited from God's grace to you?

How will you demonstrate God's grace to others today?

Bible notes author

The Revd Katei Kirby

The Revd Katei Kirby is currently heading up the Belonging Together project in the Connexional Team. This initiative celebrates the Methodist Church's ethnic diversity, and seeks to embed this at all levels of the Church's life and ministry of the Church.