More Than Leaves
Jesus never acted or even reacted without intention. Even something as strange as cursing a fig tree was performed as a part of a greater plan to guide His people to truth. So Jesus wasn’t overreacting when He declared that no one would ever eat fruit from the tree again. He was not suffering from a serious case of hanger. (Hanger = hunger + anger. It’s a real thing. Promise.) He was delivering a message. In many instances - such as this one - the true message that the Messiah tries to convey to others is not in His obvious outward response, but within the underlying meaning. Let me explain.
Once a fig tree is planted, it takes several seasons to mature enough to bear fruit.
At the end of those seasons, each tree blossoms, yielding a great amount of fruit and leaves. So when Jesus saw what looked like a mature fig tree full of leaves in the distance, he approached it expecting to find some fruit to end his hunger. What He saw gave the image of a fruitful tree. But the image was false. The closer Jesus got to the tree, the more clear it became that there was no fruit to be found on its branches. God cursed the tree because it was giving false hope and was not fulfilling its purpose.
After time of growing with the Lord, our life should start to bear the fruit of the Spirit (i.e. the characteristics of God - love, joy, peace, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, patience, long-suffering, and self-control). But we can’t bear fruit if we haven’t spiritually matured, which can only com from cultivating a deep relationship with God. Just like a tree, we never really stop growing. But there comes a season in your life that requires you live the purpose you were created for and show the evidence of your growth. The problem is that some of us bloom on the outside to give the appearance of a fruitful tree to those around us - we care more about how others perceive our Godly image instead of actually trying to develop a Godly heart. But with closer examination, it’s not difficult to see whether or not a tree is truly fruitful, or if it’s just falsely blooming.
There are so many lost souls around us who are hungry to know the Lord. When they see our lifestyle, they’re drawn to our light that contrasts against the dark world. But as they get to know us more, will they be disappointed to find a lack of fruit? Or even worse, will they think all there is to a tree is leaves and miss the truth? A holy lifestyle can look impressive upon first glance, but will prove to be empty and meaningless if there is no sincerity. In order to disciple others and show them who God is, our religious claims have to be matched by substance. We have to have fruit, not just leaves.
Are we giving the appearance of a fruitful life, or are we actually growing one? As others draw near to us, do they see more characteristics of Jesus or less of them? And more importantly, what does Jesus see as He looks closer at our hearts? Because He’s looking for more than
leaves - He’s looking for fruit. And if He finds nothing but leaves by the time we should be bearing fruit, our fate could be the same as the fig tree.
Pray: “Jesus, I want to be real. I don’t want to try to make others think I’m living for You without really having a relationship with You. Help me to know You and to live in such a way that pulls others closer to You, too. I pray that I never become spiritually barren, but always live a fruitful life.”