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Monday, August 24, 2015

Inspired by . . . Lessons from the Fig Tree: Fruit

 

On the following day, when they came from Bethany, He was hungry.

And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if he could find anything on it.

When He came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.

And He said to it, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again." And His disciples heard it.
Mar 11:12-14

 

Fig_Tree

 

Is anyone else bothered by this scripture, in which Jesus curses the fig tree for not having any fruit? It seems a bit unfair, doesn’t it? After all, the scripture tells us it was not the season for figs.

So what’s going on here? Is Jesus being arbitrary, or cynical?

No, He is not.

How do I know? because being arbitrary or cynical is contrary to His nature.

To figure out what is going on in this passage we first have to understand some principles of translation. Although the Word of God is without error, we humans are not. We can get into all sorts of trouble by asking irrelevant questions and coming up with irrelevant answers.

Here are a few things to remember:

Compare scripture with scripture. If a passage is incomplete or obscure, find a passage that is clear and complete with which to interpret it. Use scripture to check your interpretation. Use the OT as a guide to understanding the NT and read the OT in light of the NT. Work to understand the particular significance of each passage.

In the cursing of the fig tree we have a miracle of destruction, when every other miracle has been one of transformation or restoration. That fact alone should make us take notice, just as the disciples took notice.

As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots.

And Peter remembered and said to Him, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree that You cursed has withered."
Mar 11:20-21

 

The setting around which this passage is set begins with the cleansing of the temple {Mar 11:15}, and ends with the destruction of the temple {Mar 13:2}. The temple was central to the audience to whom Mark was writing.

Jesus is looking for fruit.

 

Fig_Tree_Figs

 

He came to Jerusalem looking for spiritual fruit and true worship and what does He find?

A tree with a promise {it was in full leaf} it can’t fulfill and a temple full of activity that incurs His wrath. From a distance the fig tree gave an impression of a fruit that wasn’t there. So too, the Jewish leaders of the day gave an appearance of being able to satisfy a hungry heart, but it wasn’t so. They worshipped God with their lips, but not their hearts.

Their worship was in vain.

The miracle of the fig tree was an acted parable. It symbolized the judgment that was about to fall on Jerusalem. Judgment because of their unbelief.

Now, you may be wondering how this has any relevance to those of us who are not Jewish.

It has great relevance.

When the Jews rejected the Truth the way was made for the Gentiles {non-Jews} to be saved. {Rom 11:11}

This is good news, however, Paul warns us not to become arrogant or proud.

 

But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot,

were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree,

do not be arrogant toward the branches.

If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.

Then you will say, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in."

That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief,

but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear.
Rom 11:17-20

 

We can all learn a lesson from the fig tree.

Each one of us should ask ourselves, “Is this, in any sense, a picture of me? When Jesus looks at me, is He finding in my life fruitfulness and faith?

Take time this week to prayerfully consider this question. Open up the scriptures, and let God speak and minister to your heart.

 

Blessings,

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Note: if you want to dig a little deeper, you can read Hosea 9, Micah 7 and Jotham's parable in Judges 9:11 and see how the fig tree is a metaphor of the status of the people of Israel.

Words and reflections inspired by a sermon series by Alistair Begg, Truth for Life Ministries

 

Sharing inspiration here:

Holly Barrett Barbie Swihart

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