Nothing But Leaves
Matthew 21:18-19 “Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, ‘May you never bear fruit again!’ Immediately the tree withered.”
John 15:7-8 “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
Jesus was traveling from Bethany to Jerusalem during Holy Week leading up to his crucifixion. It was the middle of the week, but the city was crowded with people. What may seem like a random event illustrates a lesson that Jesus and Matthew wanted to teach believers.
In biblical times, figs symbolized prosperity. Their fruit was sweet and delicious. People would gather under fig trees, enjoying their shade and eating the tasty fruit (like modern-day coffee shops). So, when Jesus found a fig tree covered in leaves but lacking fruit, he reacted strongly. He used it to illustrate a spiritual truth.
We often cloak our spiritual lives to hide a lack of real faith. We follow all the rules but lack a relationship with God. Religion is like fig leaves, an outward show. True faith, enduring through difficulties, comes from allowing God's Word to fill our minds, guide our wills, and transform our lives. To "remain in Christ" is to cultivate constant communication with him. We bear fruit because we are so connected to the vine (Jesus) that we can't help overflowing with spiritual fruit.
Today, if you are a “leafy” Christian, spend time with Jesus. Abide with him. Get to know Christ, listen for his voice in Scripture and in prayer.
Jesus, help me to be renewed and transformed. Allow me to become more like you and exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. In Jesus’ name, Amen.