The Fig Tree – Leaves or Fruit?
by Laurie Ashbach
Because we have limits and God doesn’t, He sometimes speaks to us in pictures so we can understand. Being a believer in Christ I am going to assume three things: God knows everything, Jesus is coming again in power and glory, and we must be prepared for Christ’s return. To be ready is important, and can be done by knowing Jesus’ teaching, and actively making it a model in our daily lives.
The story of the fig tree shows us a truth about the end of time when Christ will return. During his last week on earth Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey to cheers of Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. At night he stayed in Bethany with friends. The next morning Jesus is walking back to Jerusalem and pronounces a judgement on fig tree in Matthew 21:18-22
18 Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry.19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.
20 When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked.
21 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
Here is a picture of a worthless tree with no fruit according to Jesus, just like the unbelievers in Jerusalem who did what was right religiously, but bore no fruit of true faith. These were the Pharisees and religious leaders who said they were leading people to God, but rejected Jesus in their midst, and whipped up the crowds who shouted, ‘Crucify Him’. When Jesus cursed the leafy tree it withered immediately and became a reminder that there is judgement if we reject the truth. From afar the tree looked good, but a closer look revealed no fruit, no prayer, no belief, and no power. To bear fruit is to pray, to believe in Jesus as the way to God, and to bring others to Christ. Jesus will supply the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome anything, and to produce fruit to feed and enrich others lives. How else would this book have even made it to the 21st century?
Are you testing Jesus like the religious leaders or are you committed to reading God’s Word and living by it’s truth?
Are you looking for what you want and expect instead of accepting what Christ did on the cross?
Wherever you find yourself, it is true that Christ will come again to judge, and to gather believers to himself. Many signs point us to the end of the age such as false Christs, wars, disasters, persecution and false beliefs in loving stuff more than people. Believers are called to be prepared, so the question you can ask yourself is, am I a fig tree with only leaves, or am I bearing fruit? We are also called to stand firm until the end, in sharing Gods Word and in loving God and loving others. Using all Christ has provided, make Him known so all will hear and be given the chance to be Children of God, to be a part of God’s heavenly family for eternity.
The photo below shows a section of an old family Bible from the 1800′s. I don’t know who it belonged to, but it suggests that there were believers somewhere in the family line who cared for and handed down this book. It contains some interesting background on the fig tree too. Did you know that Adam and Eve covered themselves with fig leaves in the Garden of Eden? The fig tree is mentioned at the beginning and the end of man’s time on earth, and I wonder if that isn’t a clue that it’s important not to use the leaves to cover us up, but to eat the fruit of faith and pass it on to the next generation.