The disappointing fig tree - 5 June 2019

Xanthe Hancox

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

I’ve always found this parable strange and puzzling. Cursing a fig tree for not having fruit seems to be a pretty harsh response, especially when it’s not even the season for figs!

However, if you ever happen to find yourself in the Middle East and looking for an afternoon snack, you’d be wise to follow Jesus’ lead and find a fig tree in leaf. Once a fig tree has leaves, you can expect to find fruit. Despite the season, this tree had leaves.

But this tree had no figs. What seemed at first to be a remarkable tree turned out to be a disappointment. So Jesus said to the tree: "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And he walked away.

The next day, as they left Jerusalem and passed by the same tree, the disciples were astonished to find the tree totally withered.

When Peter expressed his surprise about the tree, Jesus used the opportunity to teach two lessons. The first lesson was about failure. The empty tree serves as a warning that we cannot pretend to be spiritually alive, for we won't bear any fruit.

The second lesson is about faith. Jesus says, "Have faith in God." We are to trust in him for all the life and strength we need in order to serve him. When we are rooted in Jesus through sincere prayer, our faith will bear fruit. Our faith in Christ will be strong enough to help move people to believe in Jesus and enter his kingdom. Through his strength in us, we'll show he's alive!

Prayer: Lord, help us to have strong faith in you. Fill our lives with the kind of fruit that brings honor to you and blesses the people around us. In your name we pray. Amen.

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