This morning I looked out the back window to view the blooming of a pear tree that doesn’t produce any fruit. These trees are all along the road as I travel to my office each day. They are absolutely beautiful and are a shout that Spring is almost here. It won’t be long until everything begins to turn green and flowers bud out all over the place. Now the daffidils are showing their beauty to the world.
Looking at the blooming trees I thought about Jesus when he came to Jerusalem for the Passover and to be the lamb of God slain for the sins of the world. Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on the colt of a donkey. Normally kings ride into town on beautiful horses, that demonstrate their power and majesty by the sight. Jesus came as the humble king, riding on a donkey’s colt. Can you imagine the sight of a small donkey, never having been ridden before and Jesus a full grown man riding it? It must have looked like he was bigger than the donkey. People spread their robes and leafy branches in the way and kept shouting “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Mark 11:9-10).
Jesus then entered the temple complex and looked around at everything and since it was already late he went out to Bethany with the twelve. “The next day when they came out from Bethany, He was hungry. After seeing in the distance a fig tree with leaves, He went to find out if there was anything on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. He said to it, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again!’ And His disciples heard it.” (Mark 11:12-14) The next day they were again passing that way when “they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up. Then Peter remembered and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, look! The fig tree that You cursed is withered.” (Verses 20-21)
This seems like such a strange event. Why was the Lord frustrated at a fig tree that had leaves but no fruit on it when it wasn’t even time for figs to be ripe? The answer lies in understanding the fig trees in that part of the world. Before time for fruit, when the leaves come out on a fig tree if it is healthy it produces small nodules which can be plucked and eaten and are said to be quite good. If a tree is beginning to die or rot from the inside it will still produce leaves but won’t produce the nodules, which evidences that it is no longer of any use in bearing fruit.
Fruit trees have a purpose. That purpose is to bear fruit. Even if they have beautiful leaves and even lovely flowers, that isn’t the purpose of the fruit tree. No amount of leaves and flowers can make up for the fact it produces no fruit. The people depend on the fruit for their sustanance and looking good won’t help the hunger at all.
As branches in the vine of Jesus our purpose is to bear fruit. In John 15:1-8 Jesus said He was the true vine, the Father is the gardener and that his disciples are the branches. Every branch that abides in Jesus will produce much fruit. “This is how my Father is glorified, if you bear much fruit, so are you my disciples.” (John 15:8). In Romans 7:4 Paul wrote, “We have become dead to the law by the body of Christ that we might be married to another, even to him who was raisd from the dead, that we might bring forth fruit unto God.”
It is easy in our life for the Lord to get carried away with leaves and flowers. We want to look good for the world around us. But disciples of Jesus aren’t here to just look good. We are fruit trees. Our purpose is to bear fruit for the Lord. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and self-control.” When our life produces this fruit it will also lead us to bring others to Christ which is also the fruit we are to bear.
Imagine Jesus looking out the windows of heaven on a beautiful spring morning and seeing us. Will he be encouraged by the sight of the leaves and flowers to talk to the Father about how lovely we are on such a beautiful day? Of will he look deeper to get fruit only to see that there is nothing there but leaves?