“In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once. When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” Matthew 21:18-20
This passage may seem strange – why would Jesus curse a fig tree?
Through this action, Jesus illustrated a very important point. The fig tree refused to produce fruit – what it was designed to do – and all it was doing was making leaves.
In the same way, the Jewish leadership of the time were refusing to heed the call of God. They were corrupt and diseased, just as the tree was. Both the leadership and the tree were fruitless, and worthless to fulfill their purpose to glorify our Lord.
Just like the fig tree and the Jewish leadership of Jesus’ time, we can either align ourselves with him or with ourselves and our false belief systems.
Making leaves is essential for a fruit tree, but unless it also produces fruit, it is useless. Perhaps you can consider yourself as a tree. Are your roots strong and healthy? Are you producing fruit? Are you sheltering people and giving others help?
This tree promised, but did not deliver. It was just a display having no real intention, impact or worth. Our churches and our lives can produce fruit to nourish and impact others, or give out rotten fruit that will discourage and repulse all those in our neighborhoods. Christian leaders who refuse to be fruitful are a very heinous sight to our Lord. Causing others to stray from the truth is perhaps the very worst thing a leader can do. In this passage, Jesus is exposing wickedness and showing his authority to do so. So, let us gladly and faithfully submit and be fruitful.
If you think this is too hard, consider and take comfort in the fact that he will not give us anything we cannot handle (Philippians 2:9-13; Hebrews 2:10). So, let us live with excellence for his glory!
Today, let’s ask Jesus for grace to produce good fruit, not just leaves. Let us nourish those around us through his Spirit and his power, and glorify him through our faithful fruit.
Check out an earlier post by Richard here.