Our Great Master Looks for Fruit

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Speaking on Jesus words in Luke 13–

And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down’” (Luke 13:6-9)

J.C. Ryle offers words that are still striking for us today–

“Our Lord teaches this lesson (the lesson of the call to repentance and the lesson to whom much is given much is expected) the Lord teaches this lesson by comparing the Jewish church of His day to a fig tree planted in a vineyard. This was exactly the position of Israel in the world. They were separated from other nations by the Mosaic laws and ordinances, no less than by the situation of their land. They were favored with revelations of God which were granted to no other people. Things were done for them that were never done for Egypt or for Nineveh or for Babylon or for Greece or for Rome. And it was only just and right that they should bear fruit to God’s praise. It might reasonably be expected that there would be more faith, more repentance, more holiness, more godliness in Israel than among any other land. This is what God looked for. The owner of the fig tree came seeking fruit.

But we must look beyond the Jewish church if we mean to get the full benefit of this parable before us. We must look to the Christian churches. We have light and truth and doctrine and precepts of which the heathen never hears. How great is our responsibility! Is it not just and right that God should expect from us, fruit? We must look to our own hearts. We live in a land of Bibles, liberty, and Gospel preaching. How vast are the advantages that we enjoy compared to the Chinese or to the Hindu! Never let us forget that God expects from us fruit. And these are solemn truths. Few things are so much forgotten by men as the close connection between privilege and responsibility. We are all ready enough to eat the fat and drink the sweet and bask in the sunshine of our position as Christians and Englishmen and even to spare a few pitying thought for the half-naked savage who bows down to stocks and stones. But we are very slow to remember that we are accountable to God for all that we enjoy and that to whomsoever much is given, of them, much will be required. Let us awake to a sense of these things! We are the most favored nation upon earth. We are, in the truest sense, a fig tree planted in a vineyard. Let us not forget that our great Master looks for fruit.”

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