Passion Week: The Fig Tree
(Matthew 21:18-21, Mark 11:20-26)
On Monday, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem from Bethany where He spent the night, He felt hunger pangs. He sees a fig tree in full bloom, having lush green leaves, and His heart is happy. So Jesus approaches the tree with the hope of finding some fruit to appease His hunger.
To His disappointment the tree had no fruit. He cursed the tree saying it would never bear fruit again. Consequently the fig tree withered. Mark 11:13 gives the reason why the tree was fruitless: it was not the season for figs. However according to a number of Bible commentators, the fig tree, unlike other trees bears its (young, immature) fruit before the leaves come in. Others say “the season of figs” meant the time for gathering figs. So if we combine the two, then it means the fig tree full of foliage is expected to have some fruit on it, whether young, immature or unripe fruit. The tree looked like it had fruit but on closer look, no fruit was found on it.
How many times have we seen someone “from afar of” who gives the impression that he bears a certain kind of fruit, only for us to draw closer and find contrary fruit or no fruit? How many times have we ourselves given the impression that we are one way only for people to see that we are totally something different when they draw near? We as Christians have mastered the art of speaking “Christianese” while acting totally unchristian. We preach with our words and our appearances but do not live what we preach.
Thanks to Social Media, we have all become prophets, priests and pastors. In fact one can go to church on a person’s wall on Facebook or Instagram. Videos. Bible verses. Devotions. We all look and sound “spiritual” but what will others find on close scrutiny? Remember we are known by our fruit (or lack thereof), i.e. what comes out of us, our actions and not by our professions alone. Our actions and our professions must be alligned, in secret or in the open.
As with the fig tree, Jesus seeks fruit from us. He expects us to bear fruit in and out to season. He asks us in John 15:5, to abide in Him, stay connected to Him and we will bear much fruit. He said in John 15:16 that He expects His followers to bear fruit, fruit that last.
The kind of fruit Jesus seeks from us is stated in Galatians 5:22-23. It is one fruit with many slices. It is the fruit of the spirit. The more of the Holy Spirit you have in you, the more slices you will exhibit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…”
Will people find any of these in us when they draw closer? When they rummage through our beautiful, lush, green leaves; the perfect manicures and weaves, the impeccable suits and shiny shoes, the spiritual professions on our timelines, will they find fruit, good fruit? Selah.
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