The agrarian setting that Jesus' audience lived in would not have missed the powerful image used in the parable of the fig tree as recorded by Luke in 13:6-9. It is like a cabbage field in Korea that produces no vegetable for kimchi, or a padi field that harvests no rice in Niigata for sake, or a hen that lays no egg in a farm in Lim Chu Kang. Every producer would expect fruit for its investment else as Jesus said, "Look! for three years I have been coming here looking for figs on this fig tree, and I haven't found any. Cut it down!" Luke 13:7.
Compare this image with the lush healthy tree described in Psalm 1. “That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither - whatever they do prospers," Psalm 1:3. The Psalm teaches that who we spend time with affects our well-being. A Christ-like nature is nurtured by being with Christ-like people. How we think, what we prioritize, who we lean on are impacted by those who surround us. Additionally, who we look to as our primary influence is just as important. The one who "delights in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night...prospers." The healthy tree seeks out living streams which is the living Word.
The contrast of the fig tree with the one in Psalm 1 cannot be more obvious. One was existing on the edge of annihilation, the other was grounded on the good soil of abundance. In the same way, the trajectory of our growth in the Lord are found in our love for spiritual friendships and the Bible. One who does not care about fruitfulness will inevitably be fruitless. The New Year presents us with new opportunity to bear fruit. Let 2023 be special, let it be one that knows God's will and advances His kingdom. Serve Him with gladness, crave for His presence, be bound to His Body, bear much fruit!
Ps Loke Chi Shyan