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Today marks the end of our discussions of Klyne Snodgrass, Stories with Intent. The reason we are ending this series is very simple: it is incredibly difficult to summarize a commentary and to generate a conversation about a commentary. So, today we will look at one more parable, but know this: I’ll be referring to this book every now and then and I sure hope you or your pastor and your church has a copy.
6 Then he told this parable: ?A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. 7 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??
8 ? ?Sir,? the man replied, ?leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.? ?
Klyne’s commentary provides some very useful parallels, esp in Ahiqar (which he thinks is too late to use) and Exodus Rabbah; both teach something similar to what we find in Luke 13.
The fig tree is not as common as a vineyard, so common for a wine-making economy, is for representing Israel — but see Jer 24:1-10 and Hos 9:10 and Micah 7:1. And sitting under one’s tree was a symbol for the messianic age.
Unfruitful plants are images of an unfruitful, disobedient nation; destruction of such plants is an image of judgment.
The traditional approach is to see this parable as a picture of Israel bent on its own destruction or failing to produce fruit and therefore it summons the people to repent. Some see it as an image of either Israel or the church. What is perhaps important here is that the parable shows no indication the warning is only for the leaders; it seems to be addressed at the entire nation.
If privilege does not lead to productivity, it leads to judgment.