Mark 11:12-14 – “And on the next day, when they had departed from Bethany, He became hungry. 13 And 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. 14 And He answered and said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His disciples were listening.” NASB
For those who have read “Pilgrim’s Progress,” you will remember that the interpreter took Christiana and her family into his ‘significant rooms’ and showed them the wonders he had formerly exhibited to Christian. The story proceeds:
“When he had done, he takes them out into his garden again and had them come to a tree whose inside was all rotten and gone, and yet it grew and had leaves. Then said Mercy, ‘What meaneth this?’ ‘This tree,’ said he, ‘whose outside is fair, and whose inside is all rotten, is that to which many may be compared that are in the garden of God, but indeed will do nothing for Him; whose leaves are fair, but their heart good for nothing but to be tinder in the devil’s tinder-box.’”
This was John Bunyan’s way of putting into allegory what he had preached in his sermon on the ‘Barren Fig Tree.’ There are numerous facts that need to be observed and considered.
First, God Has A Right to a Reasonable Expectation of Fruitfulness from All His Creatures. I believe that is an undeniable truth presented in Scripture. On one occasion our LORD informed His disciples that they should go and bring forth fruit and that their fruit should remain. (John 15:16).
This story teaches that God expects only what is appropriate to the nature of the person. He expects nothing out of harmony with the way He has made you. God expects that every person should bring forth his own fruit. It is not the vineyard that bear grapes, it is the vine. It is not the orchard that bear figs, but the tree. God expects a proportionate quantity of fruit from each person. That could easily be reckoned based on their personal ability and circumstances. God is never unfair and always righteous!
Let me illustrate in a way that hopefully will resonate with each person. Suppose a lone fig tree was standing in a little better position to receive sunlight. Suppose that fig tree is able to receive a little more moisture, the soil is better, and the fertilizers is more evenly applied. The Rule would be, the higher the favor the richer must be the fruit. God gives us talents and expects us to use them to the fullest of our ability. It does not matter what that ability or gift is, do it with your all and do it your best.
Another clear precept is that God always looks for Fruit at the Appropriate Time. In the case of the fig tree in our text, “the time was not yet.” Figs come before leaves on this type of tree. Therefore, Jesus had every right to expect that the tree had fruit because it had leaves. But, in the examination of the tree, there was no fruit only leaves. If you will, the tree was a hypocrite. By its outward appearance, it professed to have fruit, but it had none.
Jesus used this example to teach His disciples the peril of mere profession without fruit. He did not ask fruit as soon as the tree was planted. He respected the Laws of Growing and Ripening. He waited for fruit in the time of fruit. I will pause here and address more in the next devotional and hopefully help each of us move beyond leaves to bearing fruit in our lives.
God bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him!