Today we are talking about figs. Kind of an odd thing to talk about, but in Jesus’ day a fig was a regular staple. Jesus told 3 different parables at different times using figs as a symbolic example.
The First Parable: The Unfruitful Fig Tree
He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 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?’ But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.’ “
From the commentary I have read, this is about the people of Israel. How many times has Israel turned its back on God and He would become angry with them and turn away likewise. But God would give them another chance. It is the same with us. No matter what we do or how much we slip up, God is faithful and always keeps His promises. He will never leave us or forsake us. And He will always love us.
2 Peter 3:8-9
But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
God is patient with us. It is His desire that we all are saved and have a relationship with Him.
The Second Parable: The Budding Fig Tree
Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Jesus told this parable so that we would be ready for His second coming. We will know it is getting close by seeing things happen that He prophesied (see Matthew 24). Just like the fig tree when it begins to bud shows us the season, events that Jesus describes that preclude His return will be a sign that the end is near. He wants us to watch and be ready and always live as if His return was today.
The Third Parable: The Withered Fig Tree
Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. In response Jesus said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.” And His disciples heard it.
Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter, remembering, said to Him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.”
So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.
“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
In this third parable using a fig tree, Jesus taught us about prayer and faith. When we pray we should pray in faith and not doubt. Some people use this scripture as a basis for a doctrine that is often called, “name it and claim it.” But when you look through scripture, it does not mean that you will have everything you want if you just ask for it. God is not a genie in a bottle to give us all our wants and desires. If we align our desires with His, prayers will be answered. And if you have faith, great things can be done in Jesus’ name.
Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
When we pray, we must first remember who we are praying to. Give God the praise He deserves (Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name) Pray according to His will (Your kingdom come, Your will be done). God desires our hearts. And He wants us to ask. He wants us to pray.
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.
When you have needs, pray. When you are hurting, pray. When things are good, pray and praise God. Paul says to pray without ceasing. James says to pray with faith and do not doubt. Jesus says to pray and the Father will give you all that you need.
So, the first parable teaches us that we should bear fruit and that God is patient. The second parable says to watch for Jesus’ second coming and you will know the time is near by the signs and seasons. The third parable teaches us that we should pray in faith. May these words encourage you.