Summary: We are to be fruitful in our walk with Christ
Fruit that Matters
November 6, 2011
A few years ago, the Associated Press released a study done by an agricultural school in Iowa. It reported that production of 100 bushels of corn from one acre of land, in addition to the many hours of the farmer’s labor, required 4,000,000 pounds of water, 6,800 pounds of oxygen, 5,200 pounds of carbon, 160 pounds of nitrogen, 125 pounds of potassium, 75 pounds of yellow sulphur, and other elements too numerous to list. In addition to these things, which no man can produce, rain and sunshine at the right time are critical. It was estimated that only 5 percent of the produce of a farm can be attributed to the efforts of man.
12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 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. 14 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 reveals His humanity
The next day as they were leaving Bethany
Mark records a progression of events that unfold during the Passion Week. The first event happened on Sunday, the triumphal entry. Jesus comes to Jerusalem and is welcomed with an incredible celebration. The day had been filled with excitement, energy and enthusiasm. The event was almost a parade atmosphere with crowds of people shouting and watching as Jesus made His way into the city.
The modern day equivalent would be a ticker tape parade. The St Louis Cardinals held a massive celebration over their World Series victory. The parade runs through the city and ends in the ball park. The celebration in the park had highlights from players and coaches. The finale was a grand fireworks show that capped off the evening.
The celebration on Palm Sunday was one of victory. The people of Jerusalem believed that there was a new leader for the Jewish people. The people believed that a new king was rising to power. There was finally a sign of hope against the Roman government. Everything that was wrong was going to be made right. Now was the time to celebrate.
Jesus and the disciples were leaving Bethany. The likely location of their stay was in the home of Lazarus. According to John’s gospel, Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead shortly before the events of Passion Week. Jesus was leaving the place where He had victory over death. The event was fresh in the minds of the people and fueled the celebration. The new king could not only lead but raise people from the dead.
Jesus was hungry
In the midst of the supernatural power and memory of divine demonstration, Jesus reveals His humanity. Not only does Jesus have the power to meet our personal needs, He understands them. The depth of Christ’s humanity leads to an incredible amount compassion. Jesus allowed His humanity to show in the midst of His ministry. Hunger is a desire or a need. Jesus comes to this situation at a point of need.
Jesus reveals His expectations
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.
Fig trees were a common source of cheap food in ancient Israel. The trees would produce two different sources of food – buds and fruit. The buds would come first, then the leaves and finally the figs. Mark records the problem precisely: When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves. Jesus has an expectation for this tree but there was nothing. The tree looked promising but was fruitless.
Jesus approaches a fig tree that appears to look good. The tree was filled with leaves and gives itself a positive appearance. The problem is that there were no buds on the tree. Jesus finds nothing but leaves. Many say that Jesus should not have expected figs because it was not the time for figs. Jesus was not looking for figs but for buds. The fig buds were edible and would have been used for food. The problem is that there was nothing but leaves.
Why does Jesus get so upset over the fig tree?
The tree was consuming resources but giving nothing back. The tree absorbed nutrients and everything needed to produce fruit but had nothing but leaves. The tree would not produce fruit that year. The fruitless existence of the tree defies the purpose.
What is the purpose of a fig tree? to produce fruit, specifically figs. The problem was simple, the tree was not fulfilling the design of God. The tree was not accomplishing its purpose. Jesus does not just curse the tree because it had no fruit but because it was a symbol of another issue.