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Who does Luke 13:6-9 represent?

Submitted: 5/19/2009
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Question: Who is represented by the 'fig tree,' the keeper of the vineyard, and the owner of the vineyard? Is there more than one way this can be understood to mean the keeper of the vineyard to be a sole pastor?

Answer: In Luke 13:6-9 Jesus spoke this parable: 'A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, 'Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?' 8 But he answered and said to him, 'Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. 9 And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.''

This parable is all about how God deals with a lack of spiritual growth. The fig tree, like many believers, was not bearing the fruit it had been created to bear. There are two responses to this lack of fruitfulness. The first is 'Cut it down.' This is the judgmental law-based response. The law only recognizes obedience and disobedience. It contains no time element allowing people to grow from disobedience into oibedience. Either you are doing it or you're not. The keeper of the vineyard represents Jesus in His role as our Advocate (see 1 John 2:1). An advocate is someone who is on your side, someone who is pulling for you, someone who is pushing back judgment to allow time for growth. An advocate also provides what is needed for growth. In this story, the advocate dug and fertilized. The digging represents the application of truth and the fertilizing represents the application of grace. John 1:17 says, 'For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.' In this parable, Jesus was showing the superiority of the New Testament over the Old. In John 3:17
Jesus said, 'For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.'