"And he answered and said to him, 'Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer;Luke 13:8(NASB)
The Jews incorrectly considered that personal sin was the only reason for accidents and tragedies. They told Jesus about a terrible incident when Pilate mixed the blood of certain Galileans with their religious sacrifices. They considered these men must have been terrible sinners for this to happen to them. However, Jesus rejected their supposition and used the parable of the fig tree to explain... that although sin IS the root of all tragedies, it is not necessarily because of a man's PERSONAL sin that bad things happen, for ALL men are guilty of sin, not only those who have difficulties. The parable of the fig tree was to show that ALL have sinned and ALL need to repent.
The parable also demonstrates the goodness and grace of God in giving sinners sufficient time to turn from their sin and to come to a point of true, repentance. Although ALL men, Jew and Gentile alike have sinned and fall short of the glory of God... and all need salvation through faith in Christ, the parable of the fig tree in the vineyard, indicates that Christ's teaching was targeting Israel, His covenant nation - who for centuries had refused obey God's word, turn from their sin and return to the Lord their God.
For centuries, prophets of God had been calling Israel to repent, but no sign of repentance was evident. The reference to a fig tree in a vineyard would immediately cause Jewish people to recall Isaiah's reference to the Lord chopping down a worthless fig tree, and making the vineyard a wasteland. The fig tree was a type of Israel and God the Father represented the Owner of the vineyard. Jesus was pictured as the Vine-dresser and the lack of fruit on the branches of the tree, indicated an absence of the fruit of righteousness from the nation of Israel.
It was when the Owner came looking for fruit and found it was barren, that He ordered the Vinedresser to chop it down. It was only when God looked for righteousness in the hearts of His people and He found none, that ordered their destruction. However, the grace of God is clearly seen in the response of the husbandman - JESUS, "for he answered and said to him, 'Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertiliser."
The Father had sent many prophets to Israel to turn them from their apostate ways back to Himself, and finally sent His only begotten Son to save His people from their sin. Jesus had come to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, as foretold in Scripture. He had come to set up His kingdom on earth and Israel were His chosen people, who were promised an eternal inheritance.
They should have harkened to John the Baptist who came as a voice in the wilderness, preparing the way of the Lord and calling the nation to "repent - for the kingdom of heaven is near"... and to "behold the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world". Israel should have responded to the many calls to repent of their sin and produced the fruit of righteousness, by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness.
Jesus was the incarnate Word of God, about Whom the scriptures spoke, and to Whom the Jewish Law pointed... and although they were a worthless nation, Jesus graciously asked the Father to give His people more time to repent of their sin and produce the fruit of righteousness - saying 'Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertiliser".
The Father not only responded to Christ's request to, "leave it for one more year', as He continued to share the good news of the gospel of God and the coming kingdom, but it seems that God also answered Christ's prayer on the cross - "Father forgiven them for they know not what they do", and maybe He even answered Stephen's prayer, when he was brutally murdered by the Jews - "do not hold this sin to their charge".
For 2000 years the grace of God has been giving the nation of Israel. Throughout the Church age they have had even more opportunity to repent of their sin, return to the Lord and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin. The day is coming when all Israel will repent of their apostasy and weep for their sin - at the end of the Great Tribulation, when they see Him, coming on the clouds of glory and together will cry out - 'Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord."
Heavenly Father thank You for Your goodness and grace in sending the Lord Jesus to be the sacrifice for our sin. Thank You that despite their apostate ways, You have remained faithful to the promises You gave to Israel, and we praise and thank You for the assurance that Your faithfulness towards the Church is equally steadfast and sure. We praise You that by grace You have extended Your offer of salvation to Jew and Gentile alike for a further 2000 years and that by faith in Him, I too have been forgiven of my sin and received everlasting life. May Your Holy Spirit convict many men and women of their need to turn from their sin and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness - this we ask in His precious' name, AMEN.