Brethren Archive

Four Fig Trees

by Arthur Cutting

We will summarize them in this way:—

Luke 13:6-9

The Fig Tree of Probation or Testing.

Matthew 11:18-21

The Fig Lee of Profession.

John 1:45-49

The Fig Tree of Repentance.

Matthew 24:32

The Fig Tree of Hope.

In two cases the fig tree is brought in as a parable: in the other two it was a fact.

Luke 13:6-9. Some Jews had been surmising that the sudden deaths that had occurred both through Pilate and Siloam’s tongues were evidences of great sin. The Lord Jesus promptly told them it was not so but rather a warning to them to repent or they must perish. Judgment is no empty threat—without repentance it must come

But the patience and long-suffering is seen lingering over the nation of fruitless sinners, testing them to the uttermost reluctant to cut them down.

Matthew 21:18-21. This is no parable but a fact Jesus hungering outside Jerusalem; the Messiah hungry for fruit from that fig tree! Here we see yearnings for the blessing of the sinner and the first fruits of repentance. But there was no fruit, only the leaves of an empty profession. The curse fell and the withering commenced. It was not cut down but left standing as a witness of God’s judgment.

John 1:45-49. Here is another fact. Nathaniel under the fig tree in repentance. Thus he is seen, without guile, all has been confessed. He is a true Israelite, just as Jacob became Israel when he confessed his true name. Nathaniel seeks the dark shade of the fig tree not to hide him from God but from men. “We have found Him” say these glad messengers, but the case is too serious for Nathaniel, he must be sure. He wants a real Saviour. “Come and see” is their gospel invitation, and as a result He cameHe sawHe confessed.

Matthew 24:32. Here is another parable. There is hope indicated here—hope of a bright summer which is to come.

When Israel, like Nathaniel, take their place in repentance the Son of Man will appear for their deliverance, and the Lord compares it to a fig tree putting forth its leaves. “Ye know,” says, “He that summer is nigh.” Signs of vitality in Israel will be manifested when they begin to repent and turn to God. Then the time of their blessing will be near. Our time of glory too is nigh when we shall leave the frosts and snows of earth’s winter for heaven’s perennial summer.

From notes by A.Cutting

Edification 1935

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