And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”
Anger burned through the Father’s heart as He watched the man and woman exchange words with the serpent. He could hear each word exchanged, could sense their thoughts straying from what was true, could feel their throats growing thirsty for the juice the fruit had to offer. Don’t do it, He thought. Don’t do it. But even as He watched, He knew the action they would take. He had known from the very beginning. Since before He had given His Son the authority to create them. Since before He had given His son the authority to create anything. Even back then, He had known.
Nevertheless, their betrayal broke His heart. As the woman bit into the fruit and the man did the same, His soul ached. His Son and His Spirit had the same response; They were One, so how could They not? Why did you have to do that? He wondered as He watched the man and woman pull the fruit from their lips. I gave you but one rule. Why did you have to break it?
The question was rhetorical, for the answer would have been evident even to one who was not sovereign as He was. The man and woman had found that the fruit of the tree offered them something that He did not. They had determined that He was holding something back from them, even though He had offered them the world and had kept from them only that which would hurt them. They had wanted to be like Him – gods in their own right – and the serpent had deceived them into thinking that what they were doing was good. But all that they might consider good was not necessarily of Him. And so the Father’s anger burned as the juice of the fruit dripped down the couple’s chins.
“We warned them of what would happen if they did this,” the Father said. “’You may surely eat of every tree of the garden,’ We told them, ‘But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’ We told them that. They knew the consequences.”
“Dad,” the Son replied, His voice pained but calm, soft. “If You will it, give them another chance. We can’t walk with them anymore – they must be cast out, and there must be punishment – but don’t kill them just yet. Give them a little bit longer. They disobeyed now, but give them another chance.”
“But You know just as well as I what will happen. They will disobey again and again and again.”
“And there will be punishment for that. But give them another chance.”
The Father could see it now. The Flood. The dispersion at Babel. The bondage in Egypt. The wandering in the wilderness. The judges. The kings. The prophets. The return to slavery. “But what punishment could be enough?” He asked, knowing the answer. “We could never be with them again. They are incapable of obedience, so they will permanently be separated from us.”
The Son stood firm, and while His look was solemn, His response was immediate: “Allow the vinedresser to tend to the vineyard before you cut the tree down.”
The Father looked at His Son, knowing exactly what it was that He was proposing. He had known this was the solution but would have never proposed it Himself. “My Son…”
“Dad, let me do it. Let me go down there and take on the penalty they deserve. I am capable. I am willing.”
“Dad, I want to. I would gladly do it. You know it’s the only way.”
“Dad. Please. I know that You want to be with them just as much as I do. And our Spirit is the same. Once I do the work, the Spirit can dwell within them and we can be reunited once again.”
The Father was at a loss of words. He looked down at the man and woman in the garden, who had apparently come to realize the folly of their actions. They looked down at their naked bodies in fright, then into each other’s eyes as they realized that there was no going back. And the Father had compassion on them. He looked to His Son again. “You are sure? You know I wouldn’t ask you to do it.”
The Son smiled. “Father, I know. But yes, I am sure. I want to. I eagerly desire it. I would gladly do it if it meant We could be with them again. But I wouldn’t do it unless You willed it. I can’t go unless you send me.”
If it were possible for God to feel hollow, it is how the Father felt at that moment. The idea of being separated from His Son, the idea of His beloved Child going through all those horrific things…it was almost unthinkable, even for Him. But He looked down at the man and woman and knew it was the only way. If They – Father, Son, and Spirit, the Godhead three-in-one – wanted to be reunited with the creation, the Son was the only solution. He was the only Way, living out and spreading real Truth, so that He could grant to those people true Life. There was no other answer. The Father looked at His Son, then nodded His head.
“So be it.” Amen.
The Son smiled.
The Spirit, who had been quiet up until this point, now spoke up: “Shall we go tell them?”
The Father looked to the Spirit, and then to His Son, whose eyes were lined with tears of mixed joy and sadness. “Yes, yes we shall,” He said at last.
And so God went down into the garden. He called out the man’s name, cursed the ground on which he walked and warned of the death which mankind had earned, and then He cast the man and his wife out from that holy place. But before He did so, He turned to the serpent with a warning: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”
Just as you have taken my people from Me, you will take My Son from Me. But He will return and will return with a vengeance, you will be destroyed for all eternity, and My people, at long last, will be returned to Me. Death, where is your sting? Sin, where is your victory? For I love the world so much that I will send My one and only begotten Son – My Child, My very self – that whosever believes in Him shall not perish, but will have everlasting life.
And so the Father willed it, the Son turned that will into action, and through the Spirit it was carried out.
Christ is the vinedresser, and He interceded so that we might have another chance. You are left with two options: Reject His handiwork and be cut down, or accept it and bear fruit. He did not leave us with a third option. Which will you choose?