“The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs.” Mark 11:12-13 NIV
The scripture surrounding the fig tree occurs in between two significant happenings in Jerusalem. Jesus had come to the Mount of Olives where he rode in on a colt into the city, while people had spread their cloaks and branches on the ground for the colt to walk on. They shouted “Hosanna in the highest”. Jesus had a mission and went into the temple courts and assessed all that was going on there (the conducting of various businesses consisting of the buying and selling of merchandise). But without taking any action or exchanging words, he decided that it was too late, and he went to Bethany with his Disciples. The bible says that the next day they left Bethany and were heading back to the temple courts, but on the way Jesus was hungry. He saw the fig tree in the fullness of its leaves and went to see if there was any fruit. But he found nothing but leaves, because it was not in the season for figs and he cursed the tree and it withered. When he reached the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were buying and selling, not only speaking out against them but also overturning their tables and benches and stopping anyone from bringing merchandise through the temple. He disrupted the flow of what was taking place in the temple because he had the authority to curse, ban, and restrict that which appears as good from afar, but within, is filled with things that corrupt and exploit what should actually be a fruitful place to feed those who are hungry. And the fig tree was a precursor.
Jesus was on a mission and about his father’s business for the house of the Lord. He displayed a hunger and was drawn to what appeared to be the fullness of a fig tree that could strengthen him in his need, but instead, he was met with great disappointment due to the tree not being in its fruitful season.
Sometimes it can appear that when life is moving seamlessly and many areas in our lives seem to be flourishing, that there is less demand for the requirement to produce from within. But, many times the things that others see from afar off that appear to look bright, and lush, and vigorous or full in our lives, when upclose and personal, it can actually be realized or counted, as burdensome, immature, imperfect, incomplete, undergrown, untimely, and undeveloped.
Naturally, research shows that fig trees that have leaves but no fruit, usually indicates that the tree is young; And due to its age, it over vigorously puts most of its energy into producing leaves and shoots. But once the tree matures and slows down that boost of fullness, it will be fruitful and produce offspring that create seeds. The bottom line is, until the tree is old enough to produce seeds, it will not produce fruit.
But Spiritually, the bible tells us that in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, he gives us this charge: “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage-with great patience and careful instruction.” (2 Timothy 4:2 NIV). John 15:1-5 tells us that Jesus is the true vine and we are the branches, therefore in order to bear fruit we must remain in the vine. Verse 3 says, that we are clean because of the word he has spoken to us. Matthew 4:4 NIV tells us that “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”. And 1 Timothy 4:12 NIV says to not “let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. These scriptures help us to understand what Jesus saw and expected of the fig tree.
When Jesus looks at us he sees us not as worldly fig trees but as spiritual fig trees. We are trees that are the spiritual children of God; Young, ambitious, zealous, strong, healthy, and full of energy. And he sees us from afar off as trees in leaf. Leaf that signifies a fullness of life. And the Lord is drawn to fullness, because he came that we may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). But the difference between the world and the spirit, is that when the Lord gets up close and personal with us in a place of relationship (where he expects to receive fruit out of that abundance of our youthful lives), that fruit should be present, whether in season or out of season. Whether in abundance or recession, whether in joy or sorrow, whether in good times or hard times, our fruit should be present and available, because we remain in the true vine that is always to be prepared with the word of God, on our lips, in our doing, in our heart, in the hope of our confident assurance in the promises of God (Faith), and in our purity because of the cleansing of the Word.
This fullness that is bursting with fruit, gives us the kind of authority like Jesus, to correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and careful instruction.
Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”John 15:16 NIV