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THE PARABLE OF THE EXPENSIVE FIG TREE IN LUKE 13:69

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A Paper Presented to Dr. Darrell L. Bock Dallas Theological Seminary

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In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Course NT320A Gospel of Luke

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by Richard Bradley Morris December 2013

PART 1: COMMENTARY The Parable of the Expensive Fig Tree (Luke 13:69) Introduction Luke 13:69 wraps up Jesus extended discourse to a crowd of thousands which began at Luke 12:1 (before the scene shifts in 13:10). Gods grace and severity, along with the appropriate human response to him are mingled together throughout 12:113:5. Jesus portrayed God as the one who can harm humans more permanently but who knows humans more intimately than anyone else (12:47). This same God will not forgive blasphemous words against the Holy Spirit, and yet the Spirit gives words to persecuted disciples (12:812). This same God demands an accounting for impoverished people (12:1321), delights to give the kingdom to an insignificant few (12:32), and exacts debts to the last penny (12:5759). Therefore, humans properly respond to this God in humble dependence (12:13, 12, 2234) while remaining cognizant of the brevity of their existence (12:3548, 5456). Once the reader arrives at chapter thirteen, the need for repentance is front and center. After ousting a common Jewish ideology, which equated great misfortune with great sin, Jesus turned two tragedies back on his audience of Jewish (determined by the tragedies) men and women by demanding their immediate repentance (13:15). If they do not repent a similar fate may await them physically (the pain accompanying the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD) but certainly spiritually. This discussion precedes a parable that might be entitled The Parable of the Expensive Fig Tree (13:69). A vineyard owner has invested six years into a fig tree with zero return (13:67). He sees the tree as something which just sits in the ground sucking up the nutrients from the soilhes had enough (13:7)! But by the intervention of the groundskeeper, and with more time and more

resources put into the tree, the tree may produce fruit; maybe (13:89). The main idea of the parable is that unrepentant people ought to repent before it is too late because God limits his forbearance before he executes judgment. A. The Patience-Depleted Owner and the Nutrient-Depleted Soil (vv. 67) Verse 6 The paragraph (Luke 13:69) begins with an introductory statement by the narrator indicating that the audience should appreciate what follows as a fictitious story that illustrates a truth rather than a factual account (BDAG s.v. 759.2); these introductions for parables are common throughout Luke (e.g. 5:36; 6:39; 8:4; 12:16). Since the story is designed to illustrate, it does not stand alone and should be read through the lens of the previous paragraph (13:15). In that paragraph Jesus used two current eventsPilates violent suppression of a few Galilean rebels and the collapse of a building structure in Siloam that killed eighteen peopleto emphasize the audiences need to urgently respond to his call for repentance. Therefore, this parable concerns repentance. Nearly the entire background for the characters actions and dialogue is established in this first sentence. The audience quickly develops the mental imagery of a man planting in his vineyard (or orchard) a fig tree some indefinite amount of time before he began checking it for fruit (the combination of the imperfect with the perfect participle create a pluperfect finite tense equivalent; see ExSyn, 647). The fig tree is planted and some time passes. Eventually, the man decides to go up to the tree in order to ( was taken as adverbial participle of purpose) look for fruit and he does not find any fruit. The attentive reader may notice what on the surface seems like a parallel with Matthew 21:1821 and Mark 11:1214, 2025. In Matthew and Mark, Jesus was hungry and went looking for figs in a leafy fig tree. Unsuccessful in his quest (he did not find figs), he pronounced a curse

on the tree and in Matthew it withered immediately to the astonishment of the disciples (21:19), but in Mark the disciples saw the tree had withered on the next day (11:20). Both Evangelists used this story to introduce one of Jesus sayings on the subject of faith. A number of differences suggest the parable of the fig tree was not dependent upon the event recoded in Matthew or Mark. First, Luke used two characters (the owner and gardener) while Matthew and Mark presented Jesus alone with the fig tree (his disciples as mere onlookers). Second, the tenor of the parable in Luke is one of gracious urgencythe tree which should have been bearing fruit may be given more timewhile Matthew and Mark displayed Jesus in an unusual shrewdness (it was not even the season for figs; Mark 11:13). Third, the event recorded in Matthew and Mark was used to introduce a saying concerning faith, while Lukes parable is left open-ended cornering the audience to either repent or remain unrepentant. Fourth and finally, there is little common language between this parable and the other Synoptics account (Nolland 1993b: 717). There was historical precedent for planting fig trees in vineyards. Within the Old Testament vines and figs were together seen as a sign of affluence (1 Kings 4:25; Micah 4:4; Zech 3:10; cf. Nolland 1993b: 718 and cp. Bock 1994 vol 2: 1208 fn. 13). Pliny the Elder (first century AD) noted that grapevines were grown on different tree species, including fig trees, with the rationale that grapes harvested from the tops of these trees produced choicer wines; but even Pliny noted this was a debated practice in his time (Natural History 17.35 199200). This could very well have been one of the concerns of Jesus fictitious vineyard owner (to produce choice wine) known to the audience. In other words, ideas of affluence, high-class wines, and entrepreneurship may have been conjured up from within the shared cognitive environment of the audience through this parable; they may have envisioned a well-to-do person.

But as the parable progresses the audience learns that the primary concern of the owner was the health of the tree and the fact that it was exhausting his resources. Verse 7 As a consequence (BDAG s.v. 213.2) to the owners failed quests for fruit, the owner rehearses the background from the previous verse (I would come looking but would find nothing; the presents are taken as iterative denoting with vividness the owners repeated behavior) and instructs the gardener to cut the fig tree down but adds one new detailnamely, the extent of time he has been seeking fruit from this tree (both the accusative case of and the preposition indicate the extent of time he waited; cf. ExSyn, 201 and Louw-Nida 67.131). Three years is a significant amount of time. As it was indicated in the previous verse, the owner planted the tree well before he began looking for fruit (pluperfect finite tense equivalent). It was customary in Jesus time and lawful according to the Mosaic Law to leave a newly planted fig tree untouched for three years (Pliny, Natural History 17.35 200; Lev 19:23). In other words, the owner may have waited three years before he began looking for fruit from this tree for an additional three years. Therefore, Jesus may have intended for the audience to imagine a total time lapse of six years before the fictitious story takes place (perhaps this discourages the urge to read the duration of Jesus ministry into three years). Like the nutrients from the soil around this tree, this owners patience has been exhausted and just about used up (BDAG s.v. 525.1; cf. Carroll 2012: 279). The owners instruction is for the gardener to cut down () the fig tree and now (the emphatic left untranslated in most translations). (The omission of by several manuscripts has no bearing on the interpretation of the parable; see Metzger, TCGNT, 137). Accessible to Lukes readers, but not necessarily accessible to Jesus audience, was the echo

between this parable and the call to repentance by John the Baptist earlier in Luke: Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down () and thrown into the fire (3:9). This callback likely explains Codex Bezaes insertion of the words (Bring the ax!) before the command to cut down the tree is given. Those individuals familiar with this callback to Johns ministry will know that a tree cut down is imagery for judgment. And now the parable begins to come into greater focus. The final detail to be considered under this verse concerns the imagery of the fig tree and the vineyard in the Old Testament. Nolland (1993b: 718) appropriately notes: Though frequently maintained, there is really no OT use of the imagery of the fig tree for Israel (or Judah) unless we count the passing image of fruitlessness in Jer 8:13. Bock (1994 vol 2: 1208) cautiously points to a possible allusion to Micah 7:1, but even this reference is unsatisfying since the prophet finds himself (possibly speaking for the nation) likened to a previously harvested fig tree, not the completely barren tree of the present parable. Beyond this, the parable makes little comment on the vineyard except on how the fig tree affects the vineyard (Luke 13:7); thus allusions to Isaiah 5 prove unhelpful. All in all, a specific OT referent for the present parable is not possible. But through an examination of these OT references (Isa 5:1ff; Jer 8:13; Mic 7:1ff), a window is given into the shared consciousness of Jesus Jewish audience. In other words, it is nearly impossible for Jesus audience to have missed the thrust of his words. When Yahweh finds his people to be fruitless lacking the deeds of social justice he requireshe has just cause to judge them collectively and individually. It is important to note that Jesus is not concerned with the mechanics of salvation; how salvation is achieved. He is concerned with the right actions which evidence ones right

disposition before God. In other words, it may be inappropriate to read this parable as though it were only for unbelievers. It should stir the heart of any person who is presently unrepentant no matter what they claim to be their relationship to God. B. The Proposal of Pardon by a Pessimistic Gardener (vv. 78) Verse 8 In vv. 67, the owners repeated behavior with the fig tree was described. Fed up with the fruitless tree, he decided to have it cut down. Its wasting space and soil nutrients in his vineyard. End of story so it seems. But to the listeners and the readers surprise, the parable does not end there. The gardener, for no reason expressed in the text, responds back to the owners command with a request of his own; he intercedes on behalf of the tree! The gardener requests for the owner to leave the tree alone for one more year and describes the care he will give to the tree in the intervening year. He will break up the soil around the tree. This act would ensure proper drainage (since fig trees prefer well-drained soils according to the University of Californias Master Gardener Program; under Fig) and absorption of nutrients from the manure. Then he will apply and probably mix in manure to the broken-up soil around the trunk of the tree (I have tried to make the gardeners work as vivid as the historical presents require; Bock 1994 vol 2: 1209 fn. 16). Apparently such intensive care for fig trees is not typically needed; fig trees are relatively low maintenance compared to other types of fruit trees (Joachim Jeremias, The Parables of Jesus 1972: 170). A number of commentators begin their assumption at this point that the gardeners intercession was successful (Bock, Carroll, Evans, Garland, Jeremias, and Nolland). But such an assumption cannot be substantiated (cp. The Story of Ahikar). This is a parable where the original listeners and later readers are left sitting on the edge of their seats.

Was the gardener successful in convincing the owner to mercifully allow the fig tree to remain in his vineyard? What about the outcome of the tree? Will the tree after such special care finally produce the fruit the owner demands and thus forestall its demise? Jesus did not want to answer those questions. Everyone is left wondering. To assume the extension is granted is to resolve tension which should remain. There is no doubt that the parable makes the careful listener a bit queasy in her stomach. Therefore, it is at this point that this commentary parts company with the scholars surveyed. The purpose of Luke 13:69 is to heighten suspense and to make even more urgent Jesus call to repentance. Do I have more time to repent? someone might ask. This parable suggests that the audience and the nation the audience represents have had more than enough time to produce fruit in keeping with their repentance (see the next verse). Therefore, to presume upon the kindness of the Owner and to go about unrepentant is to arrogantly head toward judgment. Now, this very moment, the listeners and readers must make a decision because they do not know if the Intercessor has bought them more time. This reading of the parable (along with 13:15) presents Jesus in a light unfamiliar to most Americans, believers and unbelievers alike (see Bock 1996: 369370). Jesus was not some soft sophist during his teaching ministry theorizing about how to live the best life now. His teaching snuck up on people, pounced on them, and forced them into the corner. They could either yield to the implications of his teaching or fight against them. But to remain volitionally and cognitively neutral after hearing Jesus was not an option. Verse 9 Establishing the text of this verse is of first importance. A number of manuscripts try to order and add to the words in a way that ameliorates the UBS-NA reading. But the harder reading, the one that does not supply an apodosis for the first clause, is to

be preferred. In addition to this, the current reading is supported by these strong witnesses: P75 , B, L and some Coptic (the pauci notation was excluded from the NA28 apparatus). The gardener is still in the process of interceding for the tree in v. 9. According to the gardeners proposal, once the gardener provides special care for the tree, only one year will be allowed to pass before the tree faces its fate. There was a flashback in v. 7 to the teaching of John the Baptist with the imagery of the tree cut down (3:9). But this parables close connection to the teaching of John becomes even clearer in v. 9. In Luke 3:8, John calls the people to do fruit (). And then the crowds, tax gatherers, and soldiers all ask John essentially the same question (3:10, 12, 14), What shall we do? ( ). The reader may notice the same vocabulary do fruit ( ) in the present verse. Once again, it is imperative to note that those people who had followed John and then followed Jesus for any considerable amount of time would recognize what was going on in the parable. Modern Evangelicals may be tempted to read these verses too spiritually. Some may ask, What does repentance look like? And, What fruit does the Lord seek? In the context of the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus the fruit is obvious. Right-relatedness to the Heavenly Father evidences itself in a persons right-relatedness to other people. To put it differently: the fruit the Owner comes seeking is the demonstration of love that is the result of a divine change of status (cf. Luke 7:3650). The nation of Israel and, therefore, the people who compose that nationit is not either-orhad not been caring for the underprivileged and their neighbors. Judgment came knocking because they had closed their hearts to their neighbors. Most translations provide an apodosis for the protasis at the beginning of v. 9: Then if it bears fruit next year, very well, but if not, you can cut it down (NET, cf. ESV, NET, NIV etc.).

But some attempt to make do with the ellipsis: It may bear fruit next year; if not, then you can cut it down (NJB, cf. HCSB). Each translation for the most part captures the uncertainty communicated by the third class condition began in the protasis (cf. ExSyn, 696ff). The fictitious gardener really cannot guess whether or not the tree will finally produce fruit. And the fact that it is not accompanied by an apodosis may show the unlikelihood for the tree to produce fruit after such an extended time of barrenness. What is assumed for the sake of argument (first class condition) by the gardener is that the tree will not bear fruit with an extended period of time, and will eventually fall subject to the original intention of the vineyard owner. Summary All in all, the owner of the vineyard had demonstrated his patience in waiting for the fruit of the fig tree. Once his patience has waned, he readies his axe. But the gardener speaks up hoping to delay the owners intention one more year by suggesting some attentive care to the tree. If the owner does not heed his request, the tree was coming down that day. But if he does heed the request of the gardener, the tree has only one more season to do fruit. Hopefully the owner will be merciful, hopefully. It should be noted that a number of items were not pressed in this commentary. Words and concepts that are typical Christian fodder for interpretation were mostly left alone. For example, the owner was not taken to be God the Father, and the vinedresser was not taken to be Jesus. The tree was not forced to represent either Israel or individual Israelites. And the proposal was not taken to be the successful intervention of Jesus for the nation. Riding upon the heels of 13:15, vv. 69 emphasize several themes that reappear throughout Luke: (1) Gods graciousness toward his creaturesthe owner has given the fig tree ample time to produce fruit; (2) Gods inspection of his creatures worksthe owner came to the

tree repeatedly checking for fruit; (3) Gods limited patience before he exacts judgment and discipline on his creaturesthe owner drew the line at six years but could possibly be persuaded to wait one more year; (4) the intervention of someone on behalf of anotherthe gardener does not do as the owner demands but requests an alternate course of action; (5) the urgency to repent right now while there is still timeno one knows if the gardener successfully intercedes on behalf of the tree and the impatience of the owner is tangibly felt; (6) the importance that repentance be accompanied by fruitwhat the owner wants is fruit, the very thing the tree should be producing; and (7) the unrepentant must eventually undergo judgmentif the owner and gardener do not see the fruit they desire, then the tree is a goner.

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PART 2A: SERMON OUTLINE The Parable of the Expensive Fig Tree (Luke 13:69) Homiletical Proposition: Fall on his mercy or fall to his judgment! (13:69)

Introduction 1. (Attention)We were out of time and out of luck (my little league baseball team). We were out of time and out of luck. I remember it like it was yesterday It was one of the last years I played Little League baseball. My team had fought hard and had rallied together in the last few innings to close a huge gap of being five runs behind to being tied with the other team. Every single guy on my team refused to sit down in the dugout. We were cheering, we were encouraging our teammates on in everything, and we knew that with one more inning we could probably earn the one run to give us the win. But, wait! There was one guy on the team who wasnt on his feet, who wasnt cheering, who wasnt encouraging the other teammates, and who really didnt care if we pulled ahead that day. His name was Zack Markey. I cannot remember another guys name on that team but I remember Zack. It just goes to show that if you do something unprecedentedly stupid you will be remembered! I dont know what was under his jockstrap that day. But since we had been tied for quite some time, the umpire went to each dugout to see whether or not the coaches and the kids wanted to play on. The other dugout was 100% in; they thought they could win. When the ump got to our dugout, we all looked at each other and said, Of course we want to keep playing! That is, everyone but Zack. Zack yells out to the umpire, You know I read the rulebook. And it says that our games are limited to only so many hours. And if the game surpasses that time, the

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umpire just calls it a tie. And he looks at his watch and says, Were already 30 minutes past the allowable time. And thats how the game ended. I do not remember our complete stats that season. But after losses I know it read one tie. All thanks to Zack Markey. 2. (Need)You would give anything for more time. In that situation, every one (but Zack) would have given anything for more time. And I bet that beneath your desires for more money, more comfort, or more anything else, you have a deep, deep desire for more time. You would give anything for more time. You would have given anything for more time with your father, or maybe your mother. You would have given anything for more time with your wife, or with your husband. You wish you had more time to spend with your children since they are shooting up before your eyes and it seems like youre missing so much of their daily changes. You wish you could have more time to complete your work at work. But the boss, and the teacher or professor, will not give in for one minute. No rest; everything is due and nothing can be pushed back. If you knew today were your last day, and you believed in a God who holds people accountable, well you would probably want more time to straighten out whats crooked in your life. More time to rid your life of the sin God has bringing to mind so often. More time to prove your love for God and others, beyond your profession of it. You dont want to be thrown into Gods presence unprepared or unarmed with a certain amount of self-righteousness (or selfjustification), right? But God, like your boss, like your teacher, like all your relationships, and just like Zack, watches our life tick-tock on by.

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3. (Subject)God limits his patience with unrepentant people. Friends, today Im talking about just that but in a special sense. The big idea, the main idea if you should lose me at any point today is: God limits his patience with unrepentant people. When we arrogantly choose to live our lives independent from God, self-reliant, and ignoring all the signs that we will one day face judgment, God confines his patience with us. God will allow you, me, and us to run down the clock on his kindness. He will not let us go on unrepentant forever. This sermon should serve as an exhortation and warning to all of us who are right now living in any stubbornness and rebellion. Let me tell you: you can either fall on his mercy right now, or fall in his judgment later. You decide.
4. (Text)Today we will be in Luke 13:69.

So open your Bibles and turn with me to Luke chapter thirteen. And we will be in verses six through nine. We will look at several other verses in Luke and throughout the Bible to elucidate this little parable told by Jesus. Again, thats Luke chapter thirteen, verses six through nine (repeat once more).
5. (Preview)We will see: (1) a vineyard owner has a problem; (2) there are two proposed

solutions to this problem; and (3) how this problem and its solutions confront us. The sermon has an easy structure to follow that will help us read the text accurately. First, we will encounter a certain fictitious vineyard owner who has a problem on his hands. Second, well see that the vineyard owner proposes one way to take care of his problem, but his gardener proposes another way. So, there are two possible solutions to the owners one problem. Third, we will see how this owners problem and the proposed solutions to this problem confront us. All in all, we will be confronted by this uneasy, making you sick-to-your-stomach truth in these four little verses: God limits his patience with unrepentant people. So, you can either fall on his

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mercy right now (by returning from your rebellion and stubbornness), or fall to his judgment later. But the choice is yours today. Body I. Problem: Theres no fruit! (13:67b) A. The owner comes to the tree looking for fruit (Illustration: As a child I would run out to the garden every day to inspect what my family had planted). B. But the owner doesnt find anything. C. Move-to-Wider-Scriptural-Imagery: God looks for faithfulness among his creatures (Luke 12:3548; Isa 5:4). D. Move-to-Relevance: You are found lacking when God comes looking. 1. The ways I fall short. 2. The ways you fall short. 3. The ways we fall short as a congregation. Solution One: Cut it down right now! (13:7bc) A. The owner commands the groundskeeper to cut it down; its wasting the soil (Illustration: Living in Washington State, we were required to have our trees assessed to prevent property damage). B. Move-to-Wider-Scriptural-Imagery: God limits his patience with unrepentant people (Exodus 32:114). C. Move-to-Relevance: God limits his patience with me, you, and us. Solution Two: Please, give it a little more time! (13:89) A. The gardener requests an extension and special care (Illustration: My baseball team begged the umpire for more time). B. Move-to-Wider-Scriptural-Imagery: God sometimes relents from judgment because of intercession, but sometimes he does not (cf. Exod 32:114; cp. Jeremiah 15:14). C. Move-to-Relevance: You are not immortal (cf. Psalm 90:12).

II.

III.

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IV.

Application (homiletical proposition): Fall on his mercy or fall to his judgment! (13:69) A. Jesus parable leaves the audience with a cliff hanger. B. Jesus parable emphases the need for urgent repentance (cf. 13:15). (Illustration: I learned at a young age better to confess early than to be found out later!) C. The message to that audience is the message for you today: Fall on his mercy or fall in his judgment! 1. God will not hold out forever. 2. Repentance, the kind God wants (and enables), prevents disaster (Specific examples of repentance). 3. The choice is yours.

Conclusion 1. (Review structure)We talked about the owners problem, his two possible solutions, and how his problem and possible solutions confront us. In our limited and solemn time today, we examined the The Parable of the Expensive Fig Tree or what others call, The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree. We saw how a certain vineyard owner had a problem on his handsan unproductive fig tree. He had waited patiently for so long but the tree had yet to yield a single fig. But his patience had limits. He would give the unyielding tree no more time; it had depleted his soil and his patience. His solution was to chop down the tree immediately. But the gardener proposed an alternate solution. Give the tree a little more time, and adds, Ill give it some special care. But like I said, the parable leaves us hanging out to dry. Will the owner relent from his course of action or not? Will the tree finally yield (or produce) fruit? We dont know. This parable taught us that God comes looking for faithfulness among his creatures. And he will not wait forever. And you do not have forever to wait. So, with your back against the wall of time and God staring you in the eye, what choice are you going to make. I urge me, I urge you, I urge us to fall upon his mercy today and repent. And I warn me, I warn you, I warn us that 15

if we do not fall upon his mercy today, we will fall to his judgment later. More time briefly delays the fate of the unfruitful, unyieldingthe unrepentant. 2. (Refresh image)Eventually God will call an end to your game (baseball). God will eventually call an end to all of our games just like that umpire did that day. But I promise you: I cannot, you cannot, and we cannot tie with God. We can either fall on his mercy, or we can fall to his judgment. The choice is in your hands right now. Lets pray.

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PART 2B: BEHIND THE SCENES Problems with Relevance The first problem concerns the relevance of the parable altogether. While we can extract theological truths and great principles to live by, the original audience Jesus spoke to were Jews. A layer of intrigue is added when we consider Lukes audience to be Gentiles. So does this parable accurately capture what Jesus said one time, or is it a message that Gentile Christians need to hear today? Obviously, it is both. The first problem leads to the second. If this parable is relevant for Gentile Christians, how should we understand the limited patience of God toward unrepentant people? Does this mean we will experience catastrophe and hardship in this life? Most of my audience operates in the mindset that our eternity is secure presently. So what is Gods judgment for Christians? (It reminds me of 1 Corinthians 11.) And the second leads to the third, the parable from my reading is pessimistic. It was pessimistic for that generation of Jews. But how do I stay true to the text while believing that the unrepentant in my congregation havebecause the Spirit does live within themhave the ability to produce fruit? The parable offers no guarantee that the owner will relent from his plan or that the tree will finally began doing fruit. It may be obvious but I tiptoed around the impatience of God. I used language like, God confines his patience. First, I did not want to present God as impatient since the Bible and most of us would regard that as a sin. Second, I do not know if Gods patience is infinite. Third, I do not want to leave any person in the congregation with the impression that they can exhaust Gods patience, like they exhaust the patience of a family member. I do not see how to package this in a way that maintains the urgency of the text but clearly communicates what God is like. Beyond those four items, there is the issue of a vineyard and fig tree. I would think that most of my audience has never been to a vineyard and has never seen a fig tree. I think I tasted a fig once back in college. The texture of the tree trunk, the smell of the soil and manure, the sound of a breeze blowing through a vineyard, and the taste of figs could be lost upon my audience. In other words, we are not an agrarian society. What I May Leave Out and Why I am not sure I would preach Luke 13:19 together. There are a lot of historical and ideological issues going on in vv. 15. I would hopefully have given time to that paragraph in a previous message before getting to this parable. I would leave out the discussion of the Matthew and Mark parallel account because it does not contribute to the main idea or teaching of this text.

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I may leave out the technicalities about fig trees being planted in a vineyard. In other words, I would severely limit my comments on v. 6 to a passing reference that it is normal for fig trees to be planted in a vineyard. I may leave out, or restrict, the technicalities about care for a fig tree even though that may seem essential to the parable. I try to avoid preaching sermons where I sound like I did my research and yet the information has no bearing on life. I am undecided on whether to address (or how to address) the third class and first class conditions which end the parable. And if I were to bring it up, how do I make repentance sound unlikely but then expect them to repent? I suppose I can appeal to the impossibility of repentance apart from the enablement of God. Yet this reads in a theological point that is absent from the text. Other Applications

I felt that I captured the main thrust of the sermon in my homiletical proposition. Other points I could touch on: See Jesus as one who demands decisions! This point was considered in the exegetical. All in all, I would call the listener to see Jesus in the light of his teaching, which corners us to make decisions either yielding our unrepentant heart or stubbornly holding on to it. Consider your standing before God! This would be a generic call to both believers and nonbelievers. If I have done this well, then I hope to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable. People would basically examine whether or not the tangible deeds which reflect right-relatedness to God are apparent in their lives. Note then the kindness and severity of God! I noted in the introduction of the parable how Jesus mingles together Gods kindness and severity. I would love to do a sermon where the takeaway is to uphold both the kindness of God (the patience of the owner) and the severity of God (the instruction to cut down the tree). So many factors influence our view of God and we tend to gravitate toward some of Gods characteristics over others. When I was younger I tended toward his severity. Now a little bit older, I tend toward Gods kindness sometimes to the exclusion of the other. Stop putting off your salvation! This would be a similar sermon preached to the outline above, but geared toward nonbelievers and those who think they are believers but are not.

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