Substance over appearance
20 Wednesday Jun 2012
And they brought the colt to Jesus and put their garments on it; and He sat upon it. And many spread their garments in the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields. And those who went before, and those who followed after, were crying out, “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!” And He entered Jerusalem and came into the temple; and after looking all around, He departed for Bethany with the twelve, since it was already late. And on the next day, when they had departed from Bethany, He became hungry. And seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And He answered and said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His disciples were listening. (Mark 11:7-14 NASB)
Jesus has come into the city of Jerusalem to the shouted accolades of the multitude. He is seated on a colt whose path is made all the more certain by way of the many garments and leafy branches spread out before the Lord in welcome. By all appearances, the kingdom of the God king David worshipped is being well-received.
Our Lord’s response to this raucous reception is limited to His coming into the temple and looking around. All around. He looks but says and does nothing. Together with His disciples, He departs.
The next day finds Jesus and the twelve heading back to Jerusalem from their overnight stay in nearby Bethany. On the way Jesus, seeing a fig tree in the distance and being hungry, goes to investigate. Finding the tree absent of fruit Jesus answered and said to the fig tree, “May no one ever eat from you again!”
We give answers in response to provocations—those that come our way in the form of questions, statements or proclamations. I believe the fig tree, in brandishing its foliage has, like the crowds crying their “Hosannas” and the those buying and selling in the temple, provoked the Lord into answering for theirs is the appearance of fruitfulness without corresponding substance.
The text relates it isn’t the season for figs. How is it then that the One through whom the world was made should have reason to expect to find anything nourishing on the tree? Perhaps because, although it isn’t the season for harvesting figs, figs are growing at that time of the year and the tree would likely have borne a few ripe enough to eat. It didn’t. Of course, the One through whom all things were made knew the condition of the fig tree before walking over to it. But this isn’t a lesson about satisfying physical hunger by eating figs. It’s truth for His disciples to assimilate into their lives. A lesson for them and for us.
Who knows how long the fig tree has been growing, accepting the nourishment lavished upon it by God in the form of sun and rain. It has been given everything it needs to flourish as evidenced by the leaves upon its branches, yet to no avail.
Within hearing of His disciples, Jesus speaks to the provocation of appearance apart from substance: May no one ever eat fruit from you again!
In the evening, as Jesus and the disciples pass that way again, the disciples note the withering fig tree, drying up from the roots up.
All of life is home schooling at Father’s hand for a single purpose: to learn how to love. Accept the lessons wisely, uniquely and lovingly crafted just for you no matter their appearance.
Waste life by rejecting the grace of God in its many forms and you’ll find yourself eventually drying up, withering from the very root of your soul.
Be true to your calling. Passionately embrace God’s plan for your life by yielding yourself to be molded by the Potter into the likeness of Jesus Christ and you will bear an eternal crop of good and satisfying fruit.