Trees are often used in the Scriptures to represent people and their spiritual conditions (Psalms 1:1-3, Jeremiah 17:7-8, Matthew 7:15-20).
Reading from the Old testament to the New Testament, we find two kinds of trees: good trees (righteous and Godly men) and bad trees (unrighteous and evil men).
And Jesus went into Jerusalem and into the temple. So when He had looked around at all things, as the hour was already late, He went out to Bethany with the twelve.
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. 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.’ –Mark 11:11-14
How to distinguish between the two?
Jesus answers this question in Matthew 7:20: “Therefore, by their fruits you will know them”.
Thus, by looking at the fruits a tree produces, we can tell if it is actually good or bad. For “every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit” Matthew 7:17-18.
Now, what about trees that do not bear fruit at all? Are they good or bad?
The answer is quite simple: God always causes His children to bear fruit. In John 15:5, Jesus says: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing”. Meaning that only christians who live righteously and abide in Jesus are fruit-bearing trees.
Therefore, fruitless tree are not good trees. They may look like them, but are nothing like them, because they are not connected to God and have no roots in His Word — and for this reason they remain barren.
In Mark chapter 11, verses 12 to 14, Jesus was hungry on His way from Bethany to the temple in Jerusalem. And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. 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.”
Once more, the tree here represents a group of people, and in this chapter, Jesus is referring to the spiritual leaders of Israel.
Indeed, Israel’s religious leaders had turned away from God and were seeking glory from men by constantly showing off deep piety and spirituality.
They loved the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi’ (Matthew 23:6-7). They were doing charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them (Matthew 6:1), praying standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men (Matthew 6:5), disfiguring their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting (Matthew 6:16).
Outwardly, they looked righteous, but inwardly, they were hypocrite in their worship to God and blind guides to the flock they were suppose to lead and feed (Matthew 23). They were self-indulgent (Matthew 23:25), self-righteous (Luke 18:9-14), and running the house of God like a shopping mall (Mark 11:17).
Seen from afar, they advertise fruits by putting their nice leaves on display; But seen up close they reveal nothing more than leaves.
For this reason, though it was not the season for figs, Jesus seeing the leaves at a distance expected fruits to be present as well on the tree, but could not find a single one when He got close to it. Thus, He cursed the tree and it withered.
The cursing of the fig tree symbolizes the judgement of God again His house.
Yesterday, the Pharisees and the Scribes, and today any christian who fakes spirituality, relationship with God, and commitment to God’s Word.
What does it mean to bear fruit
To bear fruit is to:
– first and formost, know and serve God diligently (Matthew 22:37-40).
– Worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).
– Be zealous for good works (Titus 2:11-15).
– Hold on to the teachings of Jesus and walk in ALL His ways (John 8:31).
– Be good witnesses and examples to other christians and unsaved people (1 Peter 5:-4).
– Have faith with works alongside (James 2:14-26).
– Reach out to the lost, preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:1-5).
Christians who bear fruit constantly seek the will of God. They strive everyday to live a holy life and share the testimony of Jesus around them — and the fruit they bear rejoices the heart of God. John 15:8 states: “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”
The danger of bearing no fruit
In Revelation 22:12-15, Jesus says: “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”
Following this, verses 14 and 15 state: “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.”
As a fact, the Lord Jesus is coming back soon; And no one knows the day and the hour of His coming (Matthew 24:36-44, Revelation 16:15). Therefore, every one of us should scrutinize his life and see whether or not he is a fruit-bearing tree. For only trees that have fruits will be accepted and received by Him.
The cursing of the fig tree in Mark chapter 11 is a warning for every Christian, a call to wholly love the Lord, sincerely follow Him, and fully engage into the Kingdom’s affairs.
The fruitless tree is useless, unacceptable, and unprofitable; And such a tree will be cursed.
Then, the fruitless tree will be cut down and thrown into the fire (John 15:6-7).
Now let us close with this question:
How will you present yourself before King Jesus when He returns — With or without fruit?
Article by What is Sin Today?
Image by Mike Melrose (Barren Tree)