Bearing the Fruit of Life
“The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again.’ And his disciples heard him say it.” (Mark 11:12-14) “In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots.” (Mark 11:20)
Wild fig trees are quite common in the foothills of Palestine. They can grow 15 to 25 feet tall. The broad, abundant leaves provide welcome shade in the hot summer. Most trees can be harvested for fruit twice a year, usually in June and August. By December, the leaves will have fallen off. After nourishment by the spring rains, new leaves will grow starting in early March. Tiny fruit-buds will also sprout, developing into ripe fruit by June. If no buds appear in March, that means the tree will be barren all year.
That time is also near the Jewish festival of Passover (in April). Jesus was going from Bethany to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, and on the way was attracted from a distance by a leafy fig tree. He approached it, hoping to find some buds of fruit, but did not discover any. So He cursed that fruitless tree. When Christ the Son of God lived on earth, the miracles He performed were all of salvation, healing, support, providence and building up. This was the only miracle that was of a punitive nature. Let us not be misled that the Lord cursed the tree because His personal hunger was not satisfied. From the preceding and following text in the Gospel of Mark, we can clearly discern the purpose that the Lord wanted to express in this action. An account of Jesus in the Holy Temple was inserted in verses 15 to 19 of chapter 11, where, upon observing the Jews using the consecrated temple intended for the prayers of all nations as a place of trade, exchange of money, and the facility of cargo transportation, Christ angrily denouncing the religious leaders for turning the temple of God into a den of thieves. This was the second time the Lord was distressed for the house of God, and chased away the people and animals involved in commerce to cleanse the Holy Temple. (The first time the Lord cleansed the temple was when He had just started His ministry – John 2:13-17). The next morning, when the disciples passed by that fig tree again, they saw that it had withered from the roots, and wondered about what the Lord did. But Christ used it to teach them about obedience to God and prayer (Mark 11:20-25).
The chosen people of Israel were the witnesses of God. God used their consecration to manifest His glory, so that all nations would recognize that the God of Israel is the one and only true God - apart from Him there is no saviour (Isaiah 43:10-13). Regrettably, the Israelites only had an outer shell of religious ritual but no fear of God and submission to Him within. They also oppressed the prophets of the Lord and even despised and killed the Son of God. The Jews at the time were like this fruitless fig tree, lacking in any fruit of testimony for God or fruit of prayer. They finally received God’s punishment.
Dear brothers and sisters. Are we also like this leafy fig tree, consisting only of superficial religious activity, but no testimony of a life belonging to God; only knowledge of the Bible, but no spiritual experiences; only imitations of other people’s spiritual experiences, but no personal enjoyment of an inter-connecting, mutually loving relationship with the Lord; only the hearing of the Truth, but no carrying out of the Truth? Is our love expressed by mere words on the tongue, and not in actual deed? Do we just talk vacuously of faith in God, but do not totally submit to Him in all things? Do we just like to sing hymns, but not to pray earnestly? We should self-examine and not deceive ourselves, Bountiful leaves cannot replace ripened fruit as an offering to God. If the Lord comes today to the Richmond Peace Evangelical Church, what good fruit of life in season can we offer to Him?
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
By: Daniel To