The Parables of Jesus: Day 16

The Fig Tree

by

Today's Text: Luke 21:5-36

In this study of the Parables of Jesus, we are reading many of the stories Jesus used to teach hearers about how to live as His followers. Each day we’ll read parables in their immediate context, focusing on a different category of parables each week. Then we will work through a series of questions to understand the meaning of the text and take to heart the “secrets of the kingdom.”

Editor’s Note: In this Parables study, Jesus Himself is telling us stories—stories He wants us to reflect on and process. Rather than asking our writers to write their own stories about Jesus’ stories, we thought it would serve you and the text better to provide questions to help you dig into the meaning of each day’s parable. If you find a parable or passage particularly confusing, stop and pray. Ask the Lord to reveal Himself to you in His Word, and thank Him that we can know Him without knowing all the answers to our questions.

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Week 3: Parables about following Jesus

Many of the parables Jesus told have to do with what it means to follow Him in this life. Addressing topics from anxiety and fear, to compassion for our neighbors and commitment to the truth, Jesus uses common scenarios and familiar places to teach His disciples how to live as His people. Each parable in this week’s daily readings speaks to the Christian life in some way. Use the questions below to help you dig deeper into Jesus’ teaching.

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Day 16 Reading: Luke 21:5-36

Questions:

1. Today’s reading focuses on what is permanent and what is fading away. What are some things you think of as permanent? Are they?

2. What does the parable of the fig tree have to do with the verse that comes before it in today’s reading?

3. What is the central point of this parable?

4. What is your response to this parable?

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  • Allison Joy

    Our souls are permanent, and anything of God and anything part of His nature is permanent. Anything of the world is temporary. That’s, perhaps, an oversimplification. I Corinthians 13:13 says, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” And I think the reason it says “the greatest of these is love” has a deeper meaning than we give it. While we often think of faith and hope as being permanent, really only love is. One of my favorite singers/songwriters, Andrew Peterson, has a song “No More Faith” that basically points out the fact that once we are in heaven, we will have no need for faith because it will be all before us and there will be absolutely no way to deny it. We will be living by sight, not by faith. And the same with hope. We will have nothing left to hope for because everything will be fulfilled in God’s perfection, and we will be living it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyWi_dEJEUs

  • I found this helpful in explaining the fig tree parable further: https://bible.org/seriespage/24-parable-fig-tree

  • With all that’s going on in the world, God’s word in these verses mean more than ever. God specifically tells us not to be afraid, even as wars and persecution rage around us. I also find it interesting how God tells us not to think or plan of what to say should we ever be put in a position to bear witness under persecution. That God will speak for us in that time. I’ve often thought of what I would say if someone held a gun to my head and asked me about believing in God. I don’t want to be in that situation, but it’s happening all around us. I pray that I can keep my eyes so focused on God and not on the world as it perishes so that God can use me to bear witness even in the midst of a life or death circumstance. And I pray today for all the Christians around the world who are suffering persecution that I here in the US can’t even fathom. And God thank you for the promise of a victory, that after the world falls and Satan is defeated, we will not perish but live eternally in your kingdom in your glory. Praise you God. Thank you.

    • Chris Gruhlke

      Thanks, Amie; i’ve wondered the same thing. So happy to know the Holy Spirit will give us the words we need, when the time comes.

  • Alexis Maycock

    This parable reminds me to focus on what is truth (God, His word, my faith and my family)- for nothing is truly permanent – only the life to come when Jesus returns is permanent- everlasting.

    I am encouraged today to live this beautiful life of mine as long as the Lord gives me breathe and strength to do so but to be aware that all of this will come to an end. Not really a morbid thought but a peace in knowing that there is more to come!

  • I went into prayer this morning praying for help with the apprehension that comes with Christmas preparations..& serving as ground 0 for family gathering . With two major deaths in the family since last Christmas my heart wants to change up some traditions with a focus on Christ’s love rather than on the drinking that occurs. Today’s reading gives me hope that a focus on the permanent things in life…God’s Love that can radiate within each of us …is a possibility if I just let Christ stand with me and in me. LORD…wash away my fears & pour into me so I can be a conduit of your love be.

    • Amie

      It’s so easy to get caught up on the “good times” of the holidays, my family and I are guilty of that too. But I definitely feel God is working to being his people back to the traditions of old when it comes to church and Christmas. Thank you for your words! I also felt the same way thinking about Christmas and things. And I pray your family receives continued grace and healing from your losses.

      • Cathy

        Thank you Amie! It’s always humbling to have a sister in your court.

  • How many times a day, a week, even hourly do I worry about my schedule, my day, or how I’m “feeling”? These words, especially Luke 21:34-36 encourage me that the whole time are on earth we have a specific mission and purpose. There is a lot of work to be done. How many times do I glaze over the words in the scriptures that tell us to “keep alert” or “be watchful”.

    What a freeing thing it is to remember that there is so much more to our lives than simply surviving in our schedules, our full time jobs and the hum-drum of our modern lives!

  • April L.

    When I was first thinking about permanent stuff, I thought of my house, instantly realizing it could catch on fire. Nothing that is of material is permanent. No human being is permanent. Although, I sure wish sometimes my sweet Grandparents could have been permanent. Only God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are permanent. Thank you for thought provoking questions.

  • Permanent:
    God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit
    God’s Word
    Our souls

    Knowing this instructs what I should invest in:
    Being in relationship with God in Three Persons
    His Word
    Sharing His truth with others

  • Encourager Jess

    The two verses in Luke show me that our world everything in it is subject to change. We should not grasp on to anything in this world to balance or hold us. I think this chapter speaks to both literal and figurative occurances. Until Jesus does return here on this Earth, May we have the rest and faith in new life as a fig tree blooming in the spring. Also may we have blind trust in times of trouble and persecution that God not only never leaves us but gives us just what to do and say through is Holy Spirit. When end times are near in the literal sense we will be well practiced at following our fathers incredible commands.Lord I don’t have all of this down, but you are my rock and my everything. Help me to lean on and submit to you as my everything.

  • As I interact with the people and things in my life I like to think some of these things are permanent. I grasp on to friendships, family, places, and routines, not wanting them to slip through my fingers or drift beyond my reach. But, in the end none of these things are actually permanent and each of these things are gifts God had chosen to bless me with. None of it was ever really mine to gain or cling to, it was given to me by the One Creator who has rights to everything. I want to learn how to gracefully and joyfully accept both God’s giving and taking away. The root problem I whether I really trust that my Good is good and has the best for in mind as He gives and takes.
    I will praise God that while everything around me currently is temporary, I know that He is returning to take us home where all is permanent. I need to pull my focus off of everything that distracts me here and be watching for the evidences of my coming God.

    • Chara

      Thank you for sharing this, Erica. I do the same thing and I want to learn how to live with open hands – recognizing that it’s all His. I don’t want to take His blessings for granted but I also don’t want to hold onto them so tightly or raise them up to where they become idols.
      He is so faithful and patient with me!

    • Sabrina Moreau

      Well said. The last two years have been a season of God taking away in spades yet what He has given back (I see in hindsight) surpasses what He has taken away in ways no words can adequately express. Open hands and an open heart are what I must have to fully trust God’s permanent plan for me.

    • Christina D.

      Thanks for sharing this Erica. This is super convicting to me this morning. When the question of permanence was asked I immediately reflex answered God, His promoters, salvation, etc. But what I didn’t challenge myself to think of is what are the things that I *treat* like they’re permanent. Your response really challenged me to think on that. “I grasp on to friendships, family, places, and routines, not wanting them to slip through my fingers or drift beyond my reach.” Those words could have come straight from my heart. It is hard for me to place the people I love and the things that bring me security into God’s hands and trust His decisions to give and take away. Thanks for the challenge to focus on God and His work rather than these other things.

      • Erica

        I will be praying that we can both learn to receive with open hands for God to do with as He will. I’ve been really struggling lately with giving up a friendship. I felt like God had placed this person in my life and we had developed a really good friendship, but then after expressing some things this friend has almost completely shut me out of their life in the past 2 months. I want to blame God and ask why He had to give me a taste of such a great friend for it to all just end in me feeling rejected. But I am trying so hard to remember that the friendship was a gift from God in the first place and I shouldn’t cling so tightly to it. I pray reconciliation will happen eventually but until then I pray. So, for all of us struggling with holding on too tight, I pray that we learn to unclench our fists!

        • Christina D.

          Oh friend, I am so sorry to hear that. Having someone you care deeply for pull away is so so painful. Feeling like God has brought you the gift of friendship and then having that removed is even more tough. I can definitely empathize. I am praying for you and for your friend. Praying, like you, that reconciliation is on the horizon. Praying also for you to experience peace through this situation even though it is causing you pain and distress. God loves you. God loves your friend. We don’t know what will happen but we know that you are in His hand no matter what. It just brought to mind 1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Praying that you and I both can cast our anxiety on Him with the promise that He cares for us deeply. Thanks again for sharing today :)

    • Christina D.

      *I meant God and his promises not promoters

  • Churchmouse

    A lot of bad things are going to happen as the end draws near. There will be wars, earthquakes, famine, plagues, natural disasters, arrests and persecution of Christians. Yet Jesus tells us not to be afraid : “This will give you an opportunity to bear witness.” He tells us not to even stress ahead of time about how we will defend ourselves. He will give us the words and the wisdom for the moment. We will be betrayed, hated and some of us will even be killed. BUT not one of us will be lost. Dear sisters, we are in the end times even now but we need not fear. He has spoken these words of Truth to strengthen and comfort us. And yes to encourage us. I’m grateful He cares so much. I’m grateful He gives eternal life.

    • DH

      I just love that He reminds us “Stand firm & you will win life”. In the midst of all the terror and destruction that will come, take heart & we too will overcome this world as He did.

      Oh Lord give us faith to stand firm in the midst of these trying times that we “may be able to stand before the Son of Man”

  • The only thing permanent is God’s promises. All else is fleeting. The ground under our feet, the sky above us, the bodies we live in – none of these will be here in heaven. The parable of the fig tree and the paragraph before it detail the warning signs of the end of the world and coming of Jesus. We are reminded to stay watchful and vigilant because this hour could come at any time. Kind of like that saying, “Do you want to be doing that when Jesus comes back?” In all seriousness, that is a question we should be asking ourselves constantly.

  • “Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
    Look full in His wonderful face,
    And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
    In the light of His glory and grace.”
    This verse came quickly to mind as I read v28.”Straighten up and raise your heads because your redemption is drawing near.”
    He is never changing, constant, the Creator and Sustainer of all life; in whom I trust. ❤️

  • I think often the things that I think of that are permanent are all the things that will quickly pass away, because they are things. The one thing that will always remain is the Father. May I not grow complacent as I wait for His return, but rather awake and alert seeking the kingdom.

  • I find it interesting that a sign that the Son of God is getting ready to return is compared to when the fig tree begins to sprout leaves. Spring, when the trees begin to bud, is a time of the beginning of new life. The signs of the end times seem like a dark and disturbing time with wars, earthquakes, famines, etc. I like that the return of Jesus is compared to signs of new life in a fig tree. I probably would have said that when you see the fig tree losing its leaves then look for God’s return. Yet, Jesus in His infinite hope and promise compares it to spring. I love that.

  • I must admit I have always been confused by apocalyptic passages. I am a literal reader. So really all I am getting out of this is to stay vigilant about my faith in Christ – because for certain I will not be able to tell when the end is near! I have to believe and trust that is all God needs me to see this morning. I will re-read this later today and pray for deeper comprehension.

  • Courtney

    Verse 34 is convicting this morning, as my mind gets distracted by the decorating I want to do in my house, gifts to buy, parties to plan. Holy Spirit, help me not be weighed down with the cares of this life. Help me remember it’s all passing away.

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