Fig trees


Mark 11:12-14; 20-25

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.

Got lots of opportunity but empty branches? God wants to fill you up but you must be rooted in faith.

20 In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”

22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” [26]

It seems that the most dangerous thing to be around Jesus is an empty fig tree in leaf. The temple was full of people but they were focussed on profit. The fig was full of leaves but had no fruit. You cannot be truly full without fruit. So Jesus turns over tables and curses the fig tree. Is Jesus just having a bad day? I don’t think so. I think He is teaching His disciples an important lesson.

This tree has been provided with everything—a place in the sun, by a major thoroughfare that means it is never overlooked. God sends the water it needs and the soil of the region must be good for fig trees because there are heaps of them there. The tree has everything it needs to be successful at what it does and where it has been planted. Yet it comes up empty. Have you been given opportunities to feed other people, spiritually and physically? If you are reading this, you have been blessed with the ability to read, which means you have a head start on millions of people around the world. Reading on a computer or smart device? How did you afford that? Chances are you are within the top quarter of this world’s population, in terms of opportunities and blessings. Are your branches empty? Here’s the point. Jesus knows what the fig tree could be, the sweetness it could share, the sustenance and the support. But it doesn’t. And it is cursed for it.

“Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!” exclaim Jesus’ disciples. Yes, Jesus replies and here is where He teaches them about faith. He is telling them that with faith and conviction they can make things like this happen. This is the flipside of fruitlessness. Faith is the remedy for emptiness. Got lots of opportunity but empty branches? God wants to fill you up but you must be rooted in faith. Jesus is empowering His disciples here. He is selling them a dream –His dream– of a Kingdom filled with powerful faith, where God’s people are fruitful and multiply that kingdom by their faith. Faith means belief and reliance on God’s power, a trust that your belief will be actioned and a step to make it happen.

The one condition on powerful answered prayer is forgiveness. The bitter, the grudge holders, the angry, will limit the power of God in their lives because they choose to live by the law that they are holding everyone else to. It’s only fair then, that God treats them as they treat everyone else.

We need faith and forgiveness. Then we can feed the world. Are your branches empty? Do you bask in the light of the sun without giving back? Beware, or you might just find yourself withered and alone.