Read Mark 11:12-14, 20-25
Early in the morning travelling back into the city from Bethany, Jesus approaches a fig tree hoping that there may be something to satisfy his hunger. And yet not surprisingly, at least to the author, there is nothing on the tree as it is not the season for figs. Jesus then curses the fig tree “May no one ever eat fruit from you again”.
Seems a little strange, even unfair, doesn’t it? Jesus approaches a fig tree out of season and then appears to get annoyed when there is no fruit upon it. However, the meaning is far greater than simply a fig tree without figs. The fig tree serves as a parable (illustration) for the nation of Israel. The tree by its leafy state gave an outward distant promise of bearing fruit, however upon close inspection there was none to be found and therefore the tree was cursed to be barren forever. Similarly, Jesus, God’s son, has come to Israel (the fig tree) and yet finds no fruit. There were a lot of people pretending to be religious, there was a great outward show of religion, however on close inspection no fruit of their faith was found.
James 1:27 states that true religion is not putting on a great show but rather it is at its purest when it is caring for the orphans and widows in their distress and keeping oneself untainted by the world. Another way of saying it is true religion is when people look out and care for each other, especially the helpless, and you are willing to go against the flow of the world.
Religion that is earnestly seeking after God will bear fruit, however simply putting on a show for the benefit of others will bear nothing but selfish intentions. Are you like the fig tree, promising a lot but empty in its production of fruit? If so, ask God to soften your heart into humility, to lead and guide you into real faith that produces an abundance of fruit.
- What stood out for you in today’s story? Do you have any questions?
- Read James 1:27 together. What does this mean for your family? As a family how are you already caring for the least in the world? Is there a new habit you can adopt?
- How could you connect with someone (remembering social distancing) outside of your family to encourage or be a friend to them this week?