Saturday, May 28, 2011

Fruit, Worship, and the Cross, part 1

I have always wondered about that part of scripture where Jesus curses the fig tree for not having fruit even though it was not the season for bearing fruit. Here is that passage of scripture

Mark 11:12-14, 20-21 NIV 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. In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!"

What right did Jesus have to curse this fig tree? I’ve heard many different solutions to this problem. One says that the fig tree was a symbol of Israel and Jesus was looking for fruit from them but did not find any so He was going to take the kingdom from them and give it to someone else who will give God its fruit. True enough, but that doesn’t answer my question - what right did Jesus have to kill a plant with a curse that could not have had any fruit?

Maybe it was just a setup to show the power of believing? Since every time in the Gospels when this incident is recorded Jesus uses it to teach the power of faith, this would make sense. Except that it still doesn’t answer my question, what right did Jesus have to do this? Why was it right for him to expect fruit on a tree in the off season?

Psalm 92:12-15 gives us a clue

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord , they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, "The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him."

In this passage the righteous old folks will still bear fruit and be fresh and green. Yet old age is not the normal time to bear fruit. Having children is for the young. Older folks begin to wither since God has bound all things over to decay. How do they do this? By proclaiming that the Lord is upright and that there is no wickedness in him.

How do they know this? They have lived a full life. They have seen good and evil. How did they prevent their hearts from bitterness from seeing all the evil that happens to people and that may even have happened to them? They knew God as their Rock. They have come to trust Him and His word. The confessed the truth about God in worship and praise.

Their fruit is a supernatural fruit that did not depend on the anything natural. So Jesus was looking for supernatural fruit. This is why, I think, that Jesus had a right to expect fruit. He wasn’t looking for naturally generated figs, but supernaturally generated figs.

The fruit God is looking for from us is not the kind we can produce on our own, but the fruit of the Spirit in us.

Next post will continue from here.

1 comment:

debby1955 said...

Steve I just want you to know that your word it true and you always teach me something. Thank you