Even what appears to be rather ‘minor’ events that transpired in the life of Jesus occurred for our benefits and were recorded for us as instructions for teaching, for rebuking, for doctrine and for instruction in ‘working out our righteousness with fear and trembling’.
The story of Jesus and the fig tree is one of those ‘lesser’ incidents of which a great deal is applicable to our christian walk.
18: Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered.
19a:And when he saw a fig tree in the way he came to it: (emphasis mine)
- The fig tree ‘In the way’ is symbolic of a Christian ‘in the way of Christ’.
For before Antioch, Christians were referred to as ‘them in the way’.
- Having surrendered our lives to Him when we became born again, we are transplanted into His courts.
- No farmer plants crops without an expectation of periodic harvests according to the ‘times and seasons’, and naturally must return to it to reap fruit from some of what he has sown.
- Christ must of a necessity visit the life of every christian periodically because ‘He hungers’ and requires fruits from our lives to satiate His hunger for a time.
Mathew 19b: And found nothing thereon, But leaves only. (emphasis mine)
- The husbandman had done his part; put in time, effort and resources into preparing the soil, planting the seed and tending to it.
- The fig tree in the way had been receiving water freely, drawing nutrients from the soil freely and also receiving sunlight for its photosynthetic processes freely.
- The christian in the way has been receiving the word of God, enjoying his grace and basking in the light of his countenance.
- But upon arriving at the fig tree Jesus found nothing thereon… ‘But Leaves Only’
- The fig tree ticked off all the ‘activity boxes’ and projected an impression that it was ‘thriving’, yet the ‘primary purpose’ for which it was planted was unrealized.
- Many of us christians likewise are zealous and very active in ‘church life’ and ‘christian living’, participating in multiple departments, programs and such. Wearing the Jesus pins and the bumper stickers with pride, even speaking ‘Christianese’.
From afar off we give off the ‘impression’ of the ‘good brother/sister in the lord’ but close examination reveals that though we ‘have the form of godliness’, our inner lives (character, conversation and thought) eschew the virtues of a Christ-like life.
- Unwittingly we deny the Holy Spirit the access to transform our lives by His resurrection power. We tick of all the activity boxes, but do not bear any real fruits of the spirit and worse still are unable to live our ‘new lives’ free from the power of sin.
- This is prevalent because we often fall into the trap of getting over involved in church activities to the detriment of our personal walk and relationship with the Lord. Mistakenly assuming that serving the church always equates to serving the Lord.
- Jesus made the requirement for bearing fruit plain in John 15:4.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine: no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
- To abide in Christ is to abide in his word! If we must bear fruit, we must endeavour to spend enough quality time digesting and meditating the scriptures, curdling the milk of the word to produce cheese and butter.
- Sadly personal study time has been relegated in the lives of many christians, with preachers also de-emphasising the need for it in the lives of their members.
- Jesus told Peter 3 times that if he loved Him he should ‘feed my flock’.
- With the concept of ‘church growth’ been whittled down to increase in attendance numbers alone, there’s been an exponential increase in the numbers of ‘programs and activities’ designed to ‘achieve targets’. Targets which in most cases comes at the expense of ‘feeding the current flock’ in the household of God.
- Membership programs have taken precedence over true discipleship with the resultant effect been less and less attention paid to the ‘discipling and individual development of the flock’.
- We as a body have become miles wide but merely inches deep.
- The body as a whole increasingly resembles the fig tree that had ‘But Leaves Only’ even as the lives of the individual members mirror the same pattern.
- We were chosen and called to bear fruit: not activities!
John 15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but i have chosen you, and ordained you,that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain:
Mathew 19c: and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward forever. And presently the fig tree withered away.
- On the face of it, cursing the fig tree, seemed like a wicked & strange thing for our Lord to do. Why so strict?
- Modern christians have been sold this ‘watered down’ image of Christ. We have given ourselves ‘the buddy Christ’ concept which fits very well into our emotional and sentimental box of reducing God to a level we can handle. We view God with our ‘veiled denominational faces’ which potrays a god who is okay with compromise, a god who ‘understands’ and who wouldn’t ask anything strenuous of us. A god who is comfortable with us ‘just the way we are’, A god who is a ‘teddy-bear’ that has no iota of sternness in him. ‘God forbid’ the words ‘self-denial’, ‘sacrifice’ and ‘holiness’ are even uttered in a sermon.
- The Jesus in the scriptures is BOTH The Lion and The Lamb. Psa 89:14 depicts the foundations of his throne as been built on the pillars of righteousness & Justice. Yes God is Love and has become ‘Abba Father’. But it behooves us to understand what Heb 12:6, Rev 3:19 & Prov 3:12 says about fatherhood and discipline.
- If we become too comfortable ‘thriving’ without bearing fruit we run the risk of operating under a curse also. If we are too focussed on selfish ambition and using God to attain out flesh-centered aims without giving much thought to his primary purpose for our lives, we run the risk of attracting the judgment of Christ just like the fig tree.
- The christian walk is not for people who would not subject themselves to a Holy Spirit led periodic ‘audit/review’ of their walk. 1 Tim 4:16 exhorts us to ‘Take heed unto thyself‘. Perhaps an audit may reveal the need to trim back some of our church/personal activities in favor of ‘abiding’ in the word.
Jesus has an expectation from our lives and must of a necessity pay us a periodic visit to harvest some fruit to satiate his hunger. Upon visitation, will he meet fruit? or will our story be ‘But Leaves Only’…..?
Grace to you.
Mathew 3:10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.