Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 5, 1967
NUMBER 22, PAGE 6b-7a

All Right, We'll Give It One More Chance

Wm. E. Wallace

Have you ever lived with "the one more chance" cloud hanging over your head? I suspect you have. Maybe it was in school. Or was it during courtship? Perhaps it was a situation on the job, or in the home. It could be that you have been involved in a one-more-chance situation and you did not know it. Suppose you are under one right now?

Luke records an illustration the Lord used in teaching a lesson to impress Jews with the fact that they were in a "one-more-chance" situation. There was a certain man who had a fig tree planted in a vineyard. Now that should strike you as being strange. We think of vines being in a vineyard, not a tree. A tree in a vineyard - it would be interesting to consider how many trees one could put in a vineyard without the vineyard becoming an orchard!

It was not natural for that fig tree to be in the vineyard. It was a privilege to be in such a cultivated environment. But such a privilege carries responsibility. It should bear fruit. The owner of the vineyard thought so, because he came seeking fruit — three times he came. Three times he was disappointed. Now the tree was good for something — it had leaves, and this foliage made a right good shade against the heat of the sun. But the owner wasn't interested in resting in the shade, he wanted fruit. The tree had none, it was useless, worthless to him who looks for fruit.

The dresser or keeper of the vineyard is charged with the task to destroy the tree - cut it down. It is fruitless, useless, worthless - "Why cumbereth it the ground." It took strength from the soil, occupied space, yet it failed to produce, thus it was a hindrance. It was in the way. It wasn't worthy of the privileged position given to it, because it failed to produce fruit.

But fortunately, for the tree, there was a friend who saw possibilities for good when others did not. "Lord, let it alone this year also." I'll work the soil around the roots and fertilize it. Then if it bears fruit, we'll be happy, if not, then we'll cut it down. All right, we'll give it another chance — one more chance. Better get busy tree! Thanks to the friend who saves, aids, and fertilizes!

The parable is an illustration and an expansion of the Lord's teaching about repentance in the opening verses of Luke 13. Folks believed back then, like a lot of people believe now — that sickness, disease and violent death were direct results of wrong doing. A bunch of Galilean Jews were offering sacrifices in the Jerusalem temple when Pilate's soldiers massacred them. Their blood mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. Jesus pointed out to his audience that the Galileans did not suffer this calamity because they were any worse than any other Galileans — those present before him for example. You had all best repent, or you'll perish too! He referred to an event where eighteen people were killed when the tower of Siloam collapsed. But these folks weren't any worse off as sinners than all the rest in Jerusalem. You all must repent, while you have the chance, the opportunity, or else you'll perish too. Maybe you'll not perish like those Galileans, or like the eighteen, but you'll perish. In fact you are under probation already. You've got one more chance.

Jesus spake the parable of the fig tree in the vineyard which was fruitless but which received one more chance for the benefit of the Jews. "He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath" where the lesson was needed.

God was ready to reject the Jews as his people. They had become fruitless and were worthless to the purposes for the future, if they continued in their disappointing failures. They were in a privileged condition, these Jews. They had served a good purpose — like the foliage of the fig tree. But they didn't bear fruits of righteousness, and of acceptance of God's will in the Messiah. Jesus was working the soil and fertilizing if this didn't bring fruit in the Jews, they would suffer disaster.

Foliage has its purpose but God wants fruit. How about you fellow Christians? You are in a privileged position in God's vineyard and it is probably correct to observe that you have been good for something. But if you are not bearing fruit you are as "good for nothing."

Why cumbereth you the church? Are you a hindrance? A failure? A discouragement? A nuisance? Well, don't give up. Start all over. A little spiritual correction and word-fertilizer will bring marvelous results. You are being given another chance! Take advantage of it.

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