Years ago Andra and I traveled to Northern California to interview with a church in the Bay Area. While there, we stayed with a family of native Californians in a beautiful home that made our stay very enjoyable. Why? On the first morning after arriving there we came down for breakfast and the couple we were staying with was already eating breakfast and our host was reading the paper. I noticed the windows to the back yard were open and it was very pleasant in the house with a little breeze cooling off the morning air. As we approached the breakfast area our host said, “Would you like some fruit?” We both said yes, and he proceeded to reach out the open window to an orange tree in the back yard and pick a ripe orange from his orange tree. Since we were from Missouri and orange trees were something we only saw on TV commercials, we were very impressed to the point of me saying, “Wow! A real orange tree!” After both of them laughed, I gathered myself and went outside to see numerous fruit trees growing and bearing fruit. It was a sight I will never forget. I knew about orange trees and believed they existed because I would drink orange juice from time to time. But, to pick an orange and eat it right there was almost more than I could handle. To say the least, their ripe oranges were well appreciated that weekend.
Our host shared with me that their climate was perfect for fruit bearing trees like orange trees, grapefruit trees, and even banana trees. Unlike our hometown in Missouri, which got so cold at times that nothing would grow. They enjoyed year around perfect weather for those trees to bear the fruit from the tree that was planted. The effect would have been much different if we had seen an unusual tree in their back yard with no fruit on it. He would have explained that everything on the tree was perfect for bearing fruit; the leaves, the branches, and the root system. But no fruit! Hmmm. I would have had to use my imagination to produce the fruit in my mind, because on the tree was everything but the fruit. It would not have been as impressive as seeing and tasting the fruit at that moment.
In Matthew 21:18-19 Jesus is returning to the city and becomes hungry. He sees a lone fig tree by the road, and comes to it and finds it has nothing on it but leaves. No figs!! Jesus in turn says, “No longer shall there be any fruit from you.” Guess what happened? The fig tree withered right then and there. Jesus was very disappointed that there were leaves but no figs or fruit. Usually if there are leaves, there are figs. Not on this one. Jesus’ follow up statement sealed the deal, and the fig tree withered and died.
Here are some things to think about from this story:
1. The tree was made for producing fruit. We have been totally equipped to produce fruit as believers. We are a like a tree planted by the water that has all the nutrients to grow into a fruit producing tree. We have been supplied with a fruit bearing foundation.
2. The leaves showed that growth was happening, but no fruit. Have you ever felt like you were learning all this stuff about living for Jesus, but that’s as far as it gets? You look like a fruit producer, you wear the rights clothes, carry the latest Bible Version, and attend the most happening stuff available, but no fruit. No impact on those you meet and no dent into a lost and dying world.
3. Jesus was not impressed with the outward appearance of a fig tree that had no figs! We fill churches almost every Sunday with people who have an outward appearance of knowing Christ, but we bear little or no fruit. Guess what? Jesus is not impressed with our “religious look.” He gave us power to bear fruit!
4. Jesus cursed the fig tree and it withered and died. I am hearing more and more people who are standing up and saying, “We must get back to our first love and stand for Christ.” I have also heard many say that Jesus has taken His hand off the churches that are playing games and playing church with no fruit or growth. It demands some thought for us as believers. Are we bearing actual fruit or do we just look the part? Jesus was fed up with Israel and their rejection of the truth and His cursing the fig tree seemed to be an indictment on their lack of using all that had been given to them.
The world is no different today than it was then. The world wants to see fruit, real fruit. Not just a Christian, but a Christian who is bearing fruit. They could care less about how much we package Christianity, but they definitely want to see fruit to give them hope that it is real. If Jesus were to come up to you today and look at your life hoping to see real fruit, would He see any? Or would He see someone who looks the part with no real depth or heartfelt commitment?
Just like I was impressed with the real orange tree on our trip to California, a lost a dying world will be won over when they see truth alive and bearing much fruit. Just like we came to the back yard again and again to pick that fruit from the real tree, they will come to believers who are bearing fruit again and again for hope and salvation. Are you bearing fruit? If not, you are not producing what Jesus expects and desires. You have the roots, and you have the ingredients to bear it. Maybe there is something that is blocking the fruit from blooming in your life. Whatever is blocking that fruit producing in your life needs to be taken care of today. If you are a Christian, then Where’s the Fruit!”
The Pilgrimage continues…..