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  • Writer's pictureMatt Beaney

#1082. Cut down the unfruitful tree (20/6/24)

This week in our Luke series, we are focussing on Luke 13:1-9. Today, from Luke 13:6-9, we reflect on God’s judgment from the parable of the unfruitful tree. 

‘Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig-tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig-tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ ‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig round it and fertilise it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.”’ (Luke 13:6-9)

Lesson: If you are a Christian, you are bearing fruit and you will never be condemned. However, those who are outside of Christ will face judgement. 

To listen to this devotional, follow the link below: 

How are we to understand this teaching regarding the unfruitful tree being destroyed? Is this teaching that a Christian can lose their salvation because they have become unfruitful? Is this teaching that one has to have a certain amount of fruitfulness or be condemned? and, if so, what’s the amount required not to be cut down? 

God is looking for fruit

As we saw yesterday, the fruit that God wants to see is holiness. This is specific things, but all of our beliefs, attitudes and behaviours come under the umbrella term of holiness - living for the glory of God. God wants to see holiness in people. 

He did not find ‘any’ fruit

Jesus makes it clear that God is looking for some fruit. This is not about perfection, but He does want to see growth. Fundamentally, and we may miss this, the most important fruit that He wants to see in us in faith; God wants to see faith in Christ - faith in the gospel- which is a crucial fruit of the Spirit. 

He’s looking for ‘fruit’

Thirdly, God is looking for ‘fruit’. It’s God, by the Spirit, who grows these holy attributes in us. Yes, of course, we have to pray and seek to obey His Word, but we must understand that all true growth in holiness is the gift of God. 

(Now, this is all clearly mysterious! How can God be looking for, and how can we fail to have the fruit that He gives? Be that as it may, we must receive God’s Word even if it is mysterious.)

He cuts down the unfruitful tree

The final thing we will look at today is the warning that He will cut down the unfruitful tree; God will judge and condemn the unfruitful person.  Who are these unfruitful trees? 

Firstly, these are the religious leaders of His day who are hypocritical and are rejecting Him. Jesus is warning them to ‘repent or perish’ (13:3,5) - to receive Him as Lord and Savour. 

Secondly, this is a message for all who are not Christians. We know that this describes the unregenerate (non-Christians) because they have no fruit. A Christian always bears a measure of the fruit of the Spirit, as John writes:

‘No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.  This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.’ (1 John 3:9-10)

And as we saw earlier in this gospel:

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.  Each tree is recognised by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers.  A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.’ (Luke 6:43-45) 


If you are a Christian, you are bearing fruit and you will never be condemned. However, those who are outside of Christ will face judgement. 

Yes, this is principally for the self-righteous religious leaders of His day to be saved; yes this is a warning for non-believers to receive Christ; However, this is also a message for all Christians. We, of course, and by nature, will bear the fruit of the Spirit; however, we can resist and rebel against Him. Those in Christ will always bear fruit, but are we as holy as we could be? Do we want to bear as much fruit as possible? Are we pursuing holiness which pleases God? Are we praying to the one - the only one - who can make things grow? 



1. Notices

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News. 

2. Icebreaker

How has God been speaking to you from His Word this week and how has this helped you? 

3. Worship together

Let’s begin our time together by lifting our eyes and hearts to worship our great God. Perhaps you have readings and songs that you would like to use together. Let’s be open to the gifts that the Spirit wants to give in order to encourage one another.

4. Study and pray together

Our message on Sunday was entitled, How to become a fruitful tree. In this section, we see how we are to become fruitful trees and help others to become fruitful trees through ‘digging and fertilising’. 

Please read Luke 13:1-9, and discuss: 

  • What would you say is the main message and application of  Luke 13:1-9? 

  • Did God speak to you about anything specifically from Sunday’s message?

  • What is the shared lesson and application of the three parabolic stories of Pilate’s killings, the falling tower and the unfruitful tree? 

  • In what specific ways are you prone to self-righteousness and pride? 

  • Who is The Parable of the unfruitful tree aimed at? and why can’t it be, principally, about Christians (See 1 John 3:9-10, Luke 6:43-45)?

  • How is a Christian to apply this parable of the unfruitful tree?

  • SIV - How can ‘digging round the tree and fertilising it’ be applied to how we seek to bring people to Jesus?

  • SIV - Do we have any stories of how we have ‘Served, Invested, and inVited’ recently?

  • SIV - Spend some time together talking and praying about who and how you are seeking to bring your community to Jesus. 

  • Let’s pray together that, this week, we will have opportunities to SIV; and pray for anything else that's come out of our time in God’s Word.

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