Summary: Are we still dressed in fig leaves/
THE FIGFUL CHRISTIAN:
We see our Lord Jesus coming to the end of his earthly ministry; the last mile of his journey; about to perform his last miracle.
He is on his way to Jerusalem also known as the House of Fullness coming from Bethany, the House of Figs.
At this time of the year; fig trees get ready to bring forth their fruit and going by the seasonality, in about a month’s time, the fig trees would be laden with fruit. However, there is one unique aspect which makes the fig tree very different from other trees. The tree first brings forth fruit and only then the leaves appear.
We read that while Jesus is ‘afar off’ one particular fig tree on the wayside catches his attention. Its rich, green foliage makes it an arresting spectacle. It stands out from all other fig trees which remain bare branches. Truly, this particular tree holds a promise of plenty. Nature’s own neon-lit sign flashes attractively: PRE-SEASON OFFER! FRESH FIGS FOR FREE!
Jesus, hungry for what the tree promises approaches with anticipation….and to his great dismay finds the tree - FIG LESS! And then to the great astonishment of his disciples, Jesus does something unusual: He Curses the Fig Tree – henceforth you shall bear no fruit at all! …and they continue their journey to Jerusalem.
It is not the color of your coat but the fabric that counts!
Like the Fig Tree, all of us need to have good coats on. We should look good even from afar off, make a positive impression and announce: I am here people! Different from the crowd! Do you see me! An object of attention; attraction; admiration; appreciation; there used to be a very popular tagline of the Onida TV Ad: Neighbor’s envy; owner’s pride!
You and I can put on the coats of charm, education, job, social status, church involvement and so on. A high Fig Leaf Quotient. Likewise a church can showcase her hoary history, her wall of fame of renowned pastors, pews and projects there’s nothing wrong with the lush leaves. In fact, one can wish for no better.
Jesus doesn’t curse the tree because of its pretty leaves. In fact, that’s what draws him towards it. What he cursed was its putting on a show of fruitfulness when in reality it had none. Because of its deception Our Lord, the Giver of Life; takes away from it the most precious gift of all, the gift of life.
That’s what happened to Israel, God’s chosen people personified by the Pharisee we meet in the New Testament – a whitened sepulcher – beautiful on the outside; dead and decaying inside. More Woes are pronounced on the Pharisees than on any other – such is the Lord’s response to those who claim a name but truly a shame to Him. And that’s what will happen to any church, or any Christian, who outwardly appears Good and Godly but inwardly hollow and hypocritical.
Ananias and Sapphira wore the coats of charity and generosity; the rich young ruler wore the coat of conformity and religiosity; the elder brother of the Prodigal wore the coat loyalty and dependability. They looked so good to the world. What happens when God parts the leaves? The Truth is exposed. You are shut out of his kingdom.
In the Garden of Eden, we see Adam and Eve hurriedly putting on a coat of…….piety and duplicity.
In Genesis 3:7, after Adam and Eve had sinned, "… the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves coats."
The problem is that so many of us remain Fig Leaf Christians unmindful that the Lord may stop by and take a look.
In reality, who are we really? Are we hiding our nakedness and fruitlessness behind our pretty leaves?
By substituting man’s coat of fig leaves with a coat of skins, God teaches a valuable lesson. The coat that really counts must come out of sacrifice; out of a shedding of blood. It must cost you something precious and valuable in His sight to be acceptable. This is the foundation of Christ’s Values.
Your outward life must be a reflection of your inward life. For a fruit to come alive, a seed must die. Unless you die to yourself, you cannot live for Christ. If you are not willing to lose yourself for his sake; you will not find yourself in Him.
If there is no Price there is no Value.
Price may be your ego; your willingness to confess your unworthiness; hollowness; obsession with self; unwillingness to step out for Him and live for Him. He emptied himself; made himself nothing and was obedient unto death even to the Cross!