The Two-Faced Fig Tree

The Two-faced Fig Tree

The story of the fig tree is one that has always fascinated me.  Why would Jesus curse the poor fig tree and cause it to wither and never bear fruit again?  What made Jesus so mad with the fig tree? The power of Jesus’ words is quite breathtaking, that power of life and death in the tongue.  The power to simply speak something into existence or speak it out of existence!  Kind of reminds me of the words mothers around the world say when frustrated, “I brought you into this world and I can take you out of it,” except Jesus really could!

Let’s take a look at Jesus’ day.  Matthew 28:12-13 says this; “Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”  Our Saviour entered the temple, a place that should have been one of prayer, and what He saw infuriated him.  Instead of a place where His children gathered to earnestly seek the LORD, a place of true repentance, it had become a gathering place of thieves! 

Jesus saw the very heart of those in the temple which is why He quoted Jeremiah.  “‘Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe”—safe to do all these detestable things? Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 7:9-11). The people of God committed atrocious sins believing that the sacrifices gave them permission to act in this way.  Almost as though thinking that we can behave any way we want to during the week, and then run to church on Sunday knowing God will forgive us.  The sacrifices then, just as Christ’s sacrifice now, do not give us permission to sin. (Romans 6:15) Our Saviour could see that the people were using the sacrifice as a way to absolve their guilt even though they had absolutely no intention of ever-changing, of truly repenting.  Oh LORD, let me not be guilty of this!

Let’s get back to our fig tree.“The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs.  Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.” Mark 11:12-14.  Jesus comes upon a fig tree full of beautiful leaves and being hungry looks to see if it is bearing early fruit.  Upon discovering that there is none, He curses the tree that has given the impression of having fruit but has failed to deliver.  Kind of like those robbers in the temple.

It’s like plastic flowers.  You know the ones, the ones that you stick your nose into and take a deep breath only to discover that they aren’t real.  There will never be any fragrance in these flowers.  They promise a beautiful aroma but don’t deliver.  Disappointing.  That’s how Jesus saw the fig tree, it was disappointing, the leaves had the promise of fruit but there was none.  Anticipation but no fulfillment. 

God’s people have always been called to bear fruit, Jesus himself talks about fruit many times during the New Testament.  “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” John 15:16. But in the temple, like the fig tree, all Jesus saw was pomp and circumstance.  On the outside everything looked glorious, there were crowds, celebrations, singing, and all the decorations were spectacular, but it was all for show.  There was no substance, no fruit, no real repentance.

And so, Jesus judged the fig tree as a two-faced fig tree and deemed it not worthy.  Cursing it and causing it to shrivel up.  The two-faced fig tree had pretended to have fruit. 

And so, I must look at my own life, on the outside I can look like a Christian that has it all, super spiritual even, but have I born fruit?  Am I connected to the vine?  Do I reflect the light of Christ?  Is my life one of intimacy with the Savior or do I simply look like I have that life without there being any substance to my claim?  Am I like a robber in the temple, a fake fig tree, or the real deal?  “Make me the real deal,” is my cry today, “make me more like you Jesus, cause me to bear fruit.”

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