In Mark 11:12-14, we see an interesting, yet significant record of the character of Jesus. It had been one day since his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey amidst cheering and jubilation from the crowds. Yet, we find Jesus cursing a fig tree? A fig tree with leaves was supposed to bear fruit. The tree either should be barren or have fruit and leaves; there shouldn’t be leaves without fruit. So, what does this tree have to do with Jesus? As we’ve seen throughout the Gospels, there is typically more than meets the eye with this man. He is not cursing the tree just because. This tree represents all of those in Israel that claim to have fruit- claim to have a true, repentant heart towards God. Yet, the reality is, the people have the appearance, but there isn’t fruit to show. The Israelites were caught up in traditions rather than a true and repentant heart towards Jesus. So, what does this mean for us today in our lives?
1. Be more concerned with the posture of your heart than the status of your religiosity
I realize this is a loaded statement, but I want to communicate what the Word of God has been saying to us, humans, throughout the Old and New Testament. Remember, we just saw the huge celebration that was had for Jesus on “Palm Sunday.” People came out in droves and sang “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed in the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest Heaven!” (Mark 11:9-10) Yet, in Luke 19:40-44, we see the distress of Jesus when it comes to the city of Jerusalem. He knows the hearts of all people and knows that the people who are praising his name will be the same ones cursing him on the cross in a few short days. Be cautious, believer. You will not be perfect. But, Jesus isn’t looking for perfect followers. Jesus is looking for people who are willing to humble themselves to his authority and live a life of saying “yes” to him.
2. Evaluate what it is that you’re elevating as fruit in your life.
We don’t produce fruit in our lives by our own accord or by our own willpower- it is the power of the Holy Spirit inside of us. We don’t do things to earn God’s love- it has been given to us if we’ve made the decision to follow him as our Lord and Savior. You see, this fig tree was representative of Israel and Christians today because it showed that many will appear to be healthy, when in reality, they could be crumbling on the inside. We may be busy with church activities, serving others, and a list of other wonderful things. But, my question is, are our roots deep in order to produce fruit? I want to challenge you to think about your intimacy with Jesus this week. Don’t think about the things you are doing. Don’t think about how you appear to those around you. Take some time to really ask yourself- “do I just have leaves that look good to others, or do I genuinely have an intimate relationship where fruit is produced?”
If Jesus looked closely at our lives, what would he find? Leaves or leaves and figs?