Bear Godly Fruit

Mark 11:12-14

On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.
I’ve always had a hard time with this verse. Maybe it’s because I don’t fully understand, or maybe it’s because I do, and I’m afraid of the idea presented. But as I’ve done some more study, I feel as though I’ve learned a bit more about what’s going on, and that has helped a little. It’s difficult for many of us to understand this because we don’t fully understand the nature of fig trees. Fig trees often produce fruit before they produce leaves, so it makes sense that when Jesus sees the tree, he should expect that fruit would be on it. The tree was in leaf after all. But when Jesus reaches the tree there are only leaves, no fruit! That makes total sense, but then Mark says, “It was not the season for figs.” Well now I’m confused again. If it were not the season for figs, why then would Jesus appear to be frustrated that there aren’t any figs? I know I get frustrated when I open the fridge for the fourth time and don’t find anything I want, but he’s Jesus!

According to Adam Clarke’s commentary, fig trees are ripe in Judea as early as Passover, which would be between the end of March and the middle of April. But in this climate, some fig trees can bear fruit year-round! A significant detail is that when Mark says it was not the season for figs, it’s likely that he is saying it isn’t the time for the regular harvest of the fig tree. Often there is a small amount of fruit that ripens prior to the main crop – these are called firstfruits! So, when Jesus approached the fig tree, it was possible that there would be firstfruits, but not the main harvest.

However, based on Mark 11:13, because there were leaves but no fruit on this particular tree, it must have been barren. It was unable to bear fruit. Jesus did what any good orchardist would do, and he culled an unproductive tree. Not with an ax or a saw, but by faith. Jesus was able to use this as an example to show that outward appearance doesn’t always mean fruit. This was a lesson for the disciples and for his church that what matters isn’t the appearance of bearing fruit, but the ability to bear godly fruit in your life. Do you bear fruit, or do you only have the appearance of bearing fruit?

Reflect

  • Does your spiritual life and faith bear fruit for God’s kingdom, or does it merely have the appearance of one who bears fruit?
  • What small adjustments can you make to your life to put you in the right direction to bear godly fruit?

Pray

Heavenly Father, thank you for using this story to teach me that the ability to bear fruit is more significant than the appearance of bearing fruit. Help me to be a vine that bears good, godly fruit for your kingdom. Thank you for letting me be a part of your kingdom. Amen.

Philip Wines, September 15, 2020
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