World English Bible translation
11:12The next day, when they had come out from Bethany, he was hungry. 11:13 Seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came to see if perhaps he might find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 11:14 Jesus told it, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again!" and his disciples heard it.
When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, He entered the city to praise and acclimation. The people shouted Hosanna! and spread their clothes on the ground before Him to honor Him. After this triumphant entry into the city, Jesus returned to the countryside to spend the evening. Every afternoon before nightfall Jesus would leave the city. There is only one night where He will stay within the city and that is the night of His arrest and trial.
Today's Scripture is an incident that happened when Jesus was returning to the city that next morning from Bethany. It is a famous incident. I read about this when I was a teenager and this story was used as an example by an atheist arguing against the Christian faith. The story goes that Jesus was hungry in the morning and He saw this fig tree. It was not the season that fig trees should bear fruit, but this tree had all the leaves and markings of a tree that would have had fruit in its season. When Jesus gets closer to the tree and sees that it has no fruit He damns the tree saying, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again!"
Now the atheist that I read (and others that I have read since then) deplored the action of Jesus. Wasn't it unjust to condemn the tree for having no fruit when it was not the season for figs? When I was young this argument seemed logical. Since I have grown a little older and studied this passage I can see how this reaction only went to show the bias of the atheist. He didnít want to understand what is being communicated here. This is not just a story of a breakfast that went bad. This is a story that is meant to explain something to the people who read it.
First there is the symbolism of the tree to understand. The nation of Israel is often represented in Scripture with the image of a fig tree. God is the gardener that tends to the tree and cultivates the wild fig until it bares much fruit. But, in this story the tree has leaves out of season and even though the leaves look as though the tree should have fruit, it is barren. This tree symbolized Israel in Jesus' day. They had the appearance of being fruitful, but they were not. Even if the time was not ripe for Israel, they were condemned because they had the appearance of holiness and did not produce the fruits of that holiness.
Even beyond the symbolism of this passage, that some people would find this offensive is ludicrous. Every day farmers prune trees and weed fields. People eat meat from slaughtered animals. That Jesus uses this tree as a symbol of the nation Israel should not be shocking in any fashion. The whole world is God's orchard for Him to do with as He wishes.
The church is the inheritor of God's promises. When Christ looks at your life, will He see the fruits of the spirit in you? Will you allow Christ to work in your heart so that you will bear much fruit for God?
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