A Clever Verse for Context
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none (Luke 13:6).
If we are to go by the synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus has it in for fig trees. In both Matthew and Mark Jesus responds to the unripe fruit of an out of season fig tree by cursing the tree and causing its leaves to wither (Matthew 21:19-21, Mark 11:12-14, 20-21). In Luke we get something different, a parable on an unfruitful fig tree and its uncertain fate (Luke 13:6-9). Perhaps Luke’s addition to this story is the suggestion that both trees and people have seasons, times when we are fruitful and times when we are not. Anything different is nothing short of miraculous. To the fast paced and downright hangry Jesus of Matthew and Mark, the Evangelist Luke brings a gospel of patience.
The fig tree is one of fruit trees included in the orchard of the Phaeacians in Homer’s Odyssey. Nurtured by the gentle West Wind the trees continuously pass from growth to ripening without ever lying dormant during the winter (Odyssey 7.115-120)
Clever Questions for Further Reflection
When have you experienced a season of unfruitfulness?
How did that time challenge you and how did it benefit you?
A Clever Prayer to Close
Holy One, for all of our planting, watering, and general fretting, you are the one who gives our growth. Bless us in our fruitful times and sustain us when we lie dormant. Teach us patience. In Your Strong Name we pray, Amen.