There is a really ridiculous Liberty Mutual commercial about a street vendor. A young man, obviously looking for something to eat, sees the man and what seems to be his food stand and asks for a hotdog. To his surprise, and our disgust, the man says he doesn’t sell hotdogs, only wet teddy bears.
The young man is confused and still hungry as he walks away.
It may have looked the part, but what was inside was a far cry from what it should have been.
“Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away! Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” (Matthew 21:18-22)
It’s easy to miss the meaning of Jesus’ parable when we see this passage of scripture. We might read through and focus only on the aspect of praying to receive what we want (which we will cover), but it’s the first part of this account which captures our attention today.
Jesus was hungry. As He looked around, he saw a fig tree. How did He know it was a fig tree? The leaves that it had, the shape of the tree, they were common in this area, several outward appearances pointed to the fact that this was indeed a fig tree.
And what should you find growing on a fig tree? Figs, of course! But what did Jesus find as He examined it closer in search for food?
What is Jesus referring to?
Let’s look at the context.
Remember, Jesus had just come from the temple. This was to be a place of worship and teaching. From all outward appearances, it looked to be a temple – people were coming to sacrifice, the building was decorated and built like a temple, and it was in the location it should be. But men had corrupted it. Inside, there was no worship of God, only greedy, selfish, money-hungry blaspheming men.
From all outward appearances, some people may look the part of a Christian. They go to church, they claim to have been saved, they might even give to the poor. But they are missing the one thing that God says demonstrates His work in their life – fruit.
“Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matthew 7:16-20)
Today might be a good day to stop and examine our lives. We may claim to know Christ, but is there fruit in our lives, evidence of His redemptive work? Do others see Jesus in us? God said that if we love Him we will obey His commandments. Not just those found in Deuteronomy, but to love one another, and to go and make disciples. Have you ever shared the gospel with someone?
These are hard questions for all of us, but necessary. We can look a certain way on the outside and even claim to be something, but what really lies within? Without Jesus, we have nothing. Only in Him can we have an abundant life and eternity in heaven!