The Curse of Not Bearing Fruit
Translated by Allan Liang
The passage of Scripture we learn about today speaks also of Jesus’ miracles, although this is somewhat different from previous miracles, this being the only recorded miracle performed by Jesus of a “destructive” nature, causing the fig to whither after cursing it (Mark 11:20). The fig tree did not bear fruit as it was not the season, but was full of leaves and otherwise flourished, making it seem quite innocent, yet it was cursed by the Lord to never again bear fruit. What does the Lord want us to learn from this? This was a tree that was seen from a distance (13a), indicating that it wasn’t small, but when the Lord came to the tree to find out if it had any fruit, “he found nothing but leaves”; the tree had no fruit, and possibly had no signs of bearing fruit. We don’t know much about the fruit bearing seasons for fig trees in that region, but the Lord Jesus truly was not pleased with a fig tree that had no fruit but only leaves, and a curse-like judgement descended on this tree. When we understand that this tree symbolizes the unrepentant Israelites of that time, and also symbolizes we who have known the Lord today, the parable of fruits and leaves no longer becomes difficult to understand. The bearing of fruit indicates that a tree has life, and by their fruits, a tree can be recognized as good or bad (Matthew 7:16): a good tree bears good fruit, a bad tree bears bad fruit (Matthew 7:17-18). The leaves on a fig tree hint towards fruit, and undergo photosynthesis for the fruit, but if the tree bears no fruit, what good are the leaves apart from attracting the eye? Likewise, believers must have the fruit of life, fruit that is visible, usable and reflects the life that is truly alive, otherwise, we will be vainly called Christians and vainly take up soil. We often come up with excuses that appear spiritual - “Don’t fret, wait for God to do the work”, in order to cover up our laziness, hypocrisy, unwillingness to pursue learning, and our lack of effort in running the race, thinking that the path of God is not one that requires us to get up and go, but rather, sit and wait. Or perhaps we may try to argue for ourselves and explain why we are concerned only with superficialities, rituals, boastings, counting our years of service, pursuing knowledge as decorations, and attending all sorts of training seminars yet neglecting the purpose of those seminars. Perhaps we also seek to explain why we have no concern for the nourishment of truth, the life of discipline, the will to kill sin, and the courage to repent and renew oneself. Though we are believers of many years, we may yet find it hard to bear fruit in accordance to the heart of repentance (Mathew 3:8), becoming believers who have only leaves and have no fruit. May God use the Scripture today to give us understanding, so that by relying on the Lord, through faith, we may let this new and living life be renewed and revived, bearing the fruits of life through which we reveal that we are the vessels, messengers, and witnesses of grace. May we be used by God, and become the channel through which others receive the blessings of the gospel. Please meditate and pray: May God use the truth to nourish us, allowing us to diligently pursue all sorts of godly disciplines, bearing the fruits of life. May God destroy all obstacles in our hearts that hinder the fruit of the Spirit, no matter how valuable and natural we once considered them to be. May God strengthen our faith, knowing that he has chosen us, and will certainly lead us and walk beside us as we walk on this path of sanctification.