The One About the Fig Tree
Have you ever heard the story about Jesus and the fig tree?
Jesus is heading into Jerusalem and is hungry. Seeing a fig tree, he searches its foliage for something to eat. Finding nothing, he seems to get a tad irritated, declaring that it will never again produce fruit. The fig tree withers and his disciples are amazed. Jesus uses this as an opportunity to teach them about praying in faith. [Matthew 21:18-22, Mark 11:12-14, 20-26]
I agree with that lesson; it is astonishing, remarkable, and encouraging.
However, I also have a secondary thought about this story. The purpose of the fig tree is to produce fruit. When Jesus finds no fruit, he dismisses it and the tree dies; his disciples say that he cursed it. As followers of Jesus, we are also supposed to bear fruit. If we do not bear fruit, will Jesus dismiss us as well?
This is a sobering thought and one that is reinforced when Jesus says that he is a vine, we are his branches, and he cuts off all branches that don’t bear fruit. [John 15:1-8]
If this leaves you a bit flummoxed, balance this concern with the assurance, found in the next verse, that Jesus loves us. [John 15:9]
So, pray in faith, produce fruit, and know that you are loved!
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.