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3/3/2020 – The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree

Passage: Luke 13:6-9

Written By: Jill Hollis –Advisory Council Member

When I read Jesus’ words in Luke 13, it reminded me of a recent conversation I had with my neighbor.

My husband and I recently moved into a new house and I was considering how to redo the old landscaping. While standing on the sidewalk looking at a somewhat unruly, barren forsythia bush, a neighbor walked by and begged me not to cut it down. She explained that this forsythia bush was the first plant in the neighborhood to bloom after the long winter and was her sure sign that the hope of spring would soon be fulfilled.

I had not seen the plant in full bloom. She, however, knew its glorious potential and intervened on the forsythia bush’s behalf. I, as the owner of the garden, certainly had every right to cut down the bush but she placed in my heart an expectation of what was possible and a desire to care for the bush with great anticipation.

Luke 13:6-9 is a reminder of the possibilities lying dormant in our lives. Jesus, the Master Gardener knows our potential and is standing in our midst with his Holy Spirit ready to bring us back to life.

During this season of Lent, are we ready to not just fast from some food or drink or bad habit but to truly lay down before Jesus the heart attitudes of envy, selfish ambition, jealousy, discord, and the idols of our current culture? (Galatians 5:20) Do we truly desire to stand before Jesus with our barren hearts and ask for his healing presence that brings forth the fruit of his spirit?

Let us not pretend by producing only pretty leaves that mask our lack of fruit. Look closely! Is the fruit being produced “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control”? (Galatians 5:22)

If not, what is being produced is not from God our Father!

If not, we are like a barren forsythia bush that never produces the beauty of spring.

If not, allow the trustworthy Master Gardener to prune away those branches that are draining the strength and joy from the fruitful life he ordained before any of us came to be. (Psalm 139:16)

Most of us have probably had or seen that sad bush that doesn’t survive the winter. Praise God, even if we currently feel like that bush, like winter has gotten the best of us, we know the One who restores, the One, who without ceasing, waters and fertilizes and carefully prunes until hope bursts through!

As we await Easter, the greatest of all restorations, let Jesus know you desire his perfect pruning. In fact, go to him now and point out the branches in need of removal. Don’t cling to what brings death, seek with all your heart the Only One who brings abundant life! (John 10:10)

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