“Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?” (Luke 13: 7)
Many disciples of Jesus are not aware of the hard sayings of Jesus that fill the four Gospels. The Scripture excerpt quoted above is an example. In this short parable Jesus was emphasizing His demand that His disciples must be fruitful.
Jesus was the master of teaching by parable. At one point in His ministry He taught exclusively by parables. In the Greek language this word “parable” is a combination of two words: the word “para” which means “alongside of” and the word “ballo” which means “to throw.” (That’s why the pigskin the quarterback throws during football season is called a “ball.”) As Jesus used parables He would take the truth He was teaching and throw a story alongside that teaching so people could understand what He was teaching them. No one ever did that as perfectly as Jesus. When you study the parables of Jesus, try to determine the truth His story was illustrating.
Hours before Jesus was crucified He held a retreat with His apostles. Among other things He gave them six reasons why they must be fruitful. That is the truth He is teaching in this hard teaching of this short parable. According to Jesus, the tree that was not producing fruit had no right to be using up the ground.
By application, that means we have no right to be taking up space in His church if we’re not being fruitful. There are times when I am teaching the teachings of Jesus I feel compelled to say “I didn’t say that. He said that.” This is one of those occasions.
The hard challenge is – are you, and am I, a fruitful disciple of Jesus Christ?