Lessons From The Withered Fig Tree
Mark 11:12-14, 20
12 On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry.13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.14 He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.
20 In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. There are two possibilities that I can think of. First, since this event surrounds Jesus driving the merchants and moneychangers out of the temple, it could well be a warning to us. Don’t go around looking all fruitful and not actually produce any fruit! Don’t make yourself look good-do good.
Or, perhaps it was to show, again the power of prayer. This particular action on Jesus’ part is rather confusing. We’ve just had the triumphant palm-waving, hosanna shouting entry into Jerusalem. And later that day, Jesus heads back to Bethany. Probably to the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. The day after the parade, Jesus heads back into Jerusalem. He is on his way to cleanse the temple, so perhaps that’s on his mind. But on the way, he sees a fig tree, all full of leaves. There are different types of fig trees, some bear fruit the whole summer, others have one or two seasons per year. And of course we don’t know which type this particular tree was. But Jesus curses it. And later that day, it is dead and withered. For us, in a time of laying fallow, a time of rest, of waiting, it is hard to think of ways to bear fruit. We want to serve others, to DO something. And instead, we are being patient and letting COVID 19 move slowly among us. We wait for scientists to develop vaccines or treatments, we wait for hospitals to have the equipment they need, we wait for those already affected to heal, we flatten the curve. How can we bear fruit in this difficult time? We can pray. I hope that everyone who reads this is spending some time in prayer each day. There are SO any ways to pray. Perhaps try a new one. Maybe pick up a notebook and start journaling. Maybe go through the church directory and pray for each person. Maybe pray for the residents of each house on your block. Pray before each meal. Prayer and journaling are definitely shelter in place activities. If you want some suggestions for your prayer life, call any of your pastors. We would love to speak with you.