In this account we are told about a fig tree that has been tended for three years but hasn’t borne any fruit. So the garden owner is completely done with it and asks the gardener to cut it down. But guess what, the gardener asks for more time. Yes, he asks to tend it for another year and see if it will turn around.
Many times, when we think about intercession it is confined to prayer never to action. We intercede that is pray for our nations, our leaders, our church family, our family and friends; but never really extend our understanding of intercession to action. As I read this parable two people came to mind from scripture, Moses and Abigail. Moses intercedes through prayer for the people of Israel before God and saves them from complete annihilation and Abigail intercedes through action before David and saves her husband and their household from death and destruction.
As I read this passage and continued in meditation I wondered if I would have responded like the gardener or would have quickly cut down the barren fig tree. I reflected on my response in situations where another person’s future is at stake: do I quick provide the wood and fire to burn them or do I intercede through prayer and action for them to get a second chance. What really would make me respond like the gardener, like Moses (despite the fact that God had actually offered to start up a fresh people through him) and Abigail a woman in a patriarchal society? And what would make me respond otherwise.
It is definitely easier to cut down the barren fig tree than to make a commitment to tend it for another one year in the hope that it bears fruits. Sometimes I think the fact that despite tending for the fig tree for another year it might not bear any fruit keeps me from interceding; after all, why waste my time and energies on a doomed mission. But that is not the way of the gardener, the way of Moses, the way of Abigail and ultimately the way of Jesus.
See the Savior hang on a cross at Calvary hill after having lived a man for thirty-three years. He came to his own we are told and his own rejected Him; yet He still died for them and the entire world to reconcile man back to God. Jesus is actually the ultimate interceder, through prayer and action; better yet through the ultimate sacrifice, he gave His life so that those He was interceding for would have eternal life. They would be reconciled with the Father. See the Son of man hanging on a cross, arms stretched wide; even in death interceding, reconciling.
When I look at the human examples and ultimately at the Son of man, I am convinced that intercession is borne out of love and hope. Love for the subject of the intercession (prayer and action) and hope for a better future for the same subject. Unlike human intercession which is really limited in its ability to change the subject, Divine intervention is all powerful. Divine intervention both intercedes and ensures the subject bears fruit. Amazing grace redefined.