On the next day, when they had left Bethany, He became hungry. Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His disciples were listening. As they were passing by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up. Being reminded, Peter said to Him, “Rabbi, look, the fig tree which You cursed has withered.”
And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.” “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted to you. Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.” (Mark 11:12-14;20-25, NASB)
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The fig tree - the imagery used in today’s miracle - has long represented Israel throughout the history of the Old Testament.
And just like God’s chosen people, it is indeed a tree set apart from other fruiting trees.
In fact, it is quick to produce its bounty; often times in as little as one or two years when most other trees will require five to seven. And it is no rare occurrence for a fig tree to produce more than one harvest during a growing season, while other fruit trees work to one modest harvest every year or two.
Perhaps most unique is that - unlike any other tree - the fruit comes before the foliage and without blossom, making it a clear signal to all that the harvest is coming.
From a distance, it is this peculiar tree that catches Jesus’ eye as He becomes hungry.The tree would typically be quite colorful and verdant, enough to fill anyone’s appetite.
So, He draws nearer.
But at a closer inspection, it disappoints. Here, our Lord is standing before a mature fig tree in leaf, but there is no fruit to be had.
We might assume that the fruit was already harvested by another. But Jesus says, “It was not the season for figs.”
The absence of fruit was not due to a recent harvest; the tree was, plainly put, fruitless. And so, our Lord places a curse on the fig tree.
In Mark’s account of this miracle, we see that only a couple of days pass between the curse and Jesus and His disciples happening upon the tree again.
In the span of two days, an otherwise prolific tree has already withered from the roots to the very top. What was once alive and
without fruit is now dead and dreary.
Can you hear Peter’s astonishment in verse twenty-one? “Teacher, this is the very tree you cursed just a couple of days ago, and it’s already completely dead?!” Can you hear his wonderment at the supernatural? Can you hear him begging to be taught?
And our Great Teacher never disappoints.
Jesus has already shown that fruitlessness on a seemingly healthy tree is unacceptable, but what’s most concerning is that He sees that same fruitlessness in His people. Right now, without saving grace, they are merely a display, a show that only disappoints as the world approaches.
Jesus is quick to teach what fruit His people should possess daily: faith, prayer, and forgiveness.
Our faith should be that mountains move at our petition; at our supplication, mountains of pain, mountains of worry, mountains of distress should fall away into the sea that is Jesus’ love.
What’s more is that our prayers - though humble and contrite - should be laced with this very faith. The faith that they WILL come to pass.
And let us not overlook forgiveness. Only the one who belongs to Christ can behold the full beauty of this particular fruit, and only the one who belongs to Christ can extend this no matter the offense - because of the forgiveness that we have been shown.
This is the fruit of our faith in Christ Jesus.
As you look at your heart, are you producing fruit? Is your harvest plentiful? Is it evident from both a distance and when close by?
As a follower of Jesus, much is expected because of the promise in you; as the world draws nearer to you, are they disappointed by the lack of life flowing from your heart or are they met with a bounty of fruit, and therefore satisfied and fed?
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control...” (Galatians 5:22-23, NIV)
We encourage you to take time and journal a prayer through the list of God’s fruit. Praise Him for the ones that have been evident in your heart. And request for help on those that are lacking. Today, may we live fruitfully.
Thank you for the read! Please join us for tomorrows devotion as we journey closer and closer to the Cross of Christ.
[guest writer: Cameo Boling]