by Leow Yew Chong
There was an incidence that happened in Jesus’ life as recorded in Mark 11:12-14 where we read, “Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. And when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. In response Jesus said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.” And His disciples heard it.”
There are three lessons that we can learn from this simple short passage.
Firstly, we learn that Jesus was very human, i.e. He could feel hunger. Also, He had an expectation that when hungry and seeing something akin to food, He went towards it. Such a behavior is expected of us when we are hungry where we will go looking for food, perhaps scrounging around our kitchen cabinet or going out to the nearest food stall to fill our empty stomach.
Clearly, in this instance Jesus was able to feel and react according to the basic human behavior. We are thus reminded of Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Brethren, this is very comforting because this shows that our God is a God who had walked the earth for 33 years, faced the same feelings and suffering that we go through daily in our rat race. And this is where we can truly, in our times of distress and pain which we will surely face, boldly go to Him for help, mercy and grace. Christ then acts as both our High Priest seeking forgiveness on our part and also as an Advocate (1 John 2:1)
Secondly, we learnt from this fig tree, that despite having leaves, it is just not enough for the Master. Christ was expecting a fruit-bearing fig tree. We can sympathize with the fig tree by saying it provided shade for travelers and passers-by so that they faint not, just as in the case of Jonah. Hence why the need to be so unmerciful and destroy it?
The lesson here for us Christians is that we may be like the fig tree, actively involved in church activities, busy here and there. So much so that we grow into a beautiful fig tree with beautiful leaves where from a far distance all may see us and presume us to be fruitful. Just as the leaves camouflage the tree, our busy and bountiful activities camouflage our barrenness. There is a great need, for us and ME, to check whether you and I, are busy in so-called church work and activities which may not truly be the primary/main work and activities that the Lord requires of us.
Finally, the gospel writer stated that it was not the season for figs. Perhaps, we may sympathize and agree with this statement, as it was just not possible to have figs when it is not the season. Did not the scripture say that there is a time for everything (Eccl 3:1-8), even for battle (2 Sam 11:1)?
Hence, we may give the excuse that we are not ready to produce yet. I will be ready when it is in season. It will do us good to read the parable in Luke 13:6-9, where it was stated that a grace period of at least two years with fertilization and care, was given to the fig tree to bear fruit before being cut down. Therefore, God is clearly looking for fruit and not leaves!!!
One wonders of the consequence if Ananias (in Acts 9:10-17) had given that same excuse and not gone to Saul and baptized him? Perhaps the only Ananias that we will ever read of shall be of Acts 5:1-10. Nor will we ever know that God provides even in the desert, had Philip remained in Samaria and not gone down to the desert road of Gaza.
So brethren, there are opportunities for us to bear fruits. It’s just that sometimes opportunity comes at an inopportune time when we are pressed with concern for other things. And this is where we need to look onto Jesus who was very human and yet able to do the things required of Him yet without sinning.
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Cor 10:13)