New Year New Opportunities (Based on Luke 13:6-9)

New Year New Opportunities (Based on Luke 13:6-9)

28th January 2021

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’” (NIV)

Someone once said, “It is better to be prepared for good opportunities and have none than to have opportunities and not be prepared for them.”

We all make mistakes at some point in our lives and many people would give anything for a second chance. Think of the spouses/partners who, in the fire of their passions, abandoned their families only to regret it profoundly just a few months later. What about those few people who were offered the opportunity to invest in Jeff Bezos Amazon company early on, before it went public, but refused because they did not believe it would succeed; they could have been millionaires, or even billionaires, by now.

The Bible passage above, is a story about second chances and new opportunities.

The owner of the farm (vineyard) came back to seek fruit from a fig tree planted on his land for three years but found none. Frustrated with the situation he is determined that the fig tree should be cut down. The manager of the farm is touched by the situation and pleads on behalf of the tree, asking his boss for another chance, another opportunity to look after the fig tree for one more year.

The explanation of the parable is quite simple, the owner of this vineyard is God, the farmer responsible for maintaining the farm productiveness, including the fig tree, is Jesus, and the fig tree represents all of us. The fruits of this fig tree, or the lack thereof, are our works.

The Bible offers examples of people who missed great opportunities; there is the story of a rich young man, who missed the opportunity to follow Jesus because he cared more about material things (his wealth) than spiritual ones.[1] There is also Martha who missed the opportunity to learn at the feet of Jesus when he was spending time at her home.[2]

Do you have any regrets in your life? Regardless of what happened in the past, 2021 is a new opportunity that God is offering you.

The landowner of our main story had an expectation: “he had a fig tree in his property which was supposed to be fruitful”. It was a fair expectationbecause it is only natural for a fig tree to produce figs!

For three years the farmer looked for fruit on his fig tree and was disappointed. He might have turned its leaves, raised and lowered the branches, but nothing, he found no fruit at all.

In verse 7 the owner of the vineyard says: “Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’

The fig tree had everything to be productive, it was in a good and fertile land, but still bore no fruit.

We also enjoy special treatment; we have a special position in God’s creation and are treated in a special way.

We find in Luke 12:48 a serious warning  “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked”. Meaning, each person will be judged according to the opportunities they have received.

How are we responding to God’s blessings and opportunities in our lives?

God gave us 366 days in 2020 (leap year) and he took care of us in each one of them,  even when we were unwell, sad or disappointed, God preserved our life.

Life may have its regrets, but it also offers plenty of opportunities.

After 3 years of disappointment, the owner of the fig tree is ready to cut it down. At that moment, the manager of the property steps in and pleads with the owner to have a little bit more patience with the tree. Here we have a clear picture of Jesus interceding on our behalf before God the father, asking for his mercy towards us.[3]

“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’” v.8,9.

The manager asks for the tree to be spared and he also promises that he will dig around it and fertilize it, in other words, there will be even more investment for the fig tree: It will be spared and receive further attention.

With the New Year we will also receive new resources from Jesus.

If you ended 2020 in a negative, with a shaken faith, (or not faith at all) the word for you is that Jesus hasn’t given up on you. He is going to plead your case before God the Father, he will carry you in his loving arms and look after you.

This is a new opportunities that should not be neglected

The point being that God offers us all that we need and much more so we can be fully confident and bear fruit in his kingdom.

Fig trees that don’t bear fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. Fire here speaks of eternal death and separation from God forever. This is really serious stuff. God is love but he is also justice. He loves but he also calls to account.

This is a chance that should not be overlooked, the cost is too high to miss it.

Here is what we must do to bear fruit, we must make the most of wat God gives us and we must be rooted in God’s word, the Bible. The roots are the key to a tree’s survival. If you are rooted in God’s word you will always be fruitful.

Like the fig tree in this parable, we have just received another opportunity from God, another year to enjoy his blessings and his care. Perhaps you feel like you ended 2020 on a negative. You imagined it ending well and accomplished, but you are disappointed and feeling down. 

But far from giving up on you, God is giving you another year, isn’t that wonderful!

And there is more, Jesus will continue to invest in you. He will water your life and place more “fertiliser” in & around you. He will make sure you will have the best chance possible to be the fruitful person you are meant to be. Isn’t that great.

The message for us then is to forget about the past, forget about the missed chances; God is giving us another wonderful opportunity. Let us make the most of it!  

It is quite puzzling that there is no end to the story of the fig tree. We don’t know what happened to it. Did it produce the desired results? Was it cut down?

It is exactly the same with our lives. Like an unfinished book, our story is still being written. Let us make sure it has a fruitful & happy end. God bless you!  

[1] For the story of the rich young man see Luke 18:18-30.

[2] Martha’s story is found in Luke 10:38-42.

[3] In John 17 Jesus prays for his disciples and for those who would still come to follow him.