Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
From a distance it had to look perfect, green and leafy and full of life, and he was hungry. Yet, as he approached it he saw that looks were deceiving. Though it seemed like there should have been not a single fig hung from the branches. There was nothing to fill his hunger, nothing to strengthen him or sustain him. In a sense, it had to almost seem like a cruel trick that was played on him.
Perhaps it seems like Jesus had reacted harshly, even unfairly as he declared, “No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever.” (Mark 11:14) It wasn’t even the time of the seasons for figs to grow. How could he have, realistically expected them to be ready and waiting for him?
What we perhaps need to remember here is that this is the Christ. To this point he had performed countless miracles. He had healed the sick, gave the blind their sight, raised the dead, and, of course, fed the 5,000 with nothing more than five loaves and two fishes. Had he desired it he could have touched a branch of the tree, and figs would have undoubtedly sprung from the branches, and hung like they had been there all along just waiting for him.
In the minds of some that might just make it worse. After all, why curse the tree when he could have just made it do what he wanted?
As is so often the case with our Savior there is a deeper lesson that he wants to teach.
He had seen the showiness of the deeply religious. They made their deep and profound declarations of faith in the town squares for the people to see. From the distance they looked good, they sounded good, and one would have expected that they produced the fruits of that professed faith. One would have assumed that they were branches producing the fruits needed to strengthen and uplift those who were around them. Yet, as he neared them, he found nothing but hunger for the fruits of the Spirit.
At all times and in all places in the lives of the believer we are to produce nourishing, edifying fruits. There is no set “time of figs”. It is every hour of every day as we give ourselves over to our Savior in hope and love for our God and our neighbors. We need to be prepared for the coming of our Lord at any time, not with the theatrics of faith, or some flashy, flamboyant testimony, but with the true and sincere expressions of the hope and the grace that we are rooted in.
Yes, “by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) Still, we must remember that, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” (James 2:17) To be devoid of these works is to be devoid of the Spirit which produces them in us in the form our fruits of faith. In this sense, it isn’t that Christ curses, but that he declares a spiritual state of death and decay whereby we wither and die removed from his presence and his being.
Be prepared then in your faith dear brothers and sisters. Do not be taken in by that which is flashy but without substance, nor let yourself become like it. Instead display the fruits of the Spirit, the fruits of the tree with which you are rooted in, edifying, nourishing and strengthening your fellow man. You never know when your Savior will arrive for you, so don’t let yourself be caught off guard. Only then will you escape the fate of the fig tree.
Now may the peace of the Lord that surpasses all human understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus even unto life everlasting. Amen.