Scripture Reading: Leviticus 7:11-8:36 / Mark 11:1-25 / Psalm 28:1-9
In advertising, there is a big difference between pushing the truth and making false statements. Rarely are product’s results guaranteed or scientifically proven. When companies cross the line of false advertising, it is defaming and costly. Eclipse gum claimed that its new ingredient, magnolia bark extract, had germ-killing effects. Consumers sued Wrigley in 2009, won a large settlement and the company agreed to pay $6 to $7 million to consumers for damages.
We have all been disappointed with products that have not measured up to their claims. After spending the night in Bethany, Jesus and His disciples traveled to Jerusalem the next morning. On the way Jesus became hungry. Some suspect He left before breakfast or skipped breakfast for a time of prayer and fasting. Whatever the reason, Jesus was hungry.
It seems that these were strong hunger pains because He turned aside to a fig tree. Interestingly, Bethany means “house of figs” and the fruit was abundant in the area. It says, “Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit.” (Mark 11:13)
Jesus saw this magnificent tree a long distance away and it had big, green and fully developed leaves. This brought great hope to Jesus because fig trees develop fruit first before they get their leaves. In fact, fig trees were not yet in bloom so this tree was a bit unusual to have fruit and leaves. Jesus turned aside to get Himself some fresh figs and satisfy His hunger.
When Jesus arrived at the tree, He expected to find fruit but it had none. The tree was a great disappointment as Christ’s hopes were raised only to have them dashed. Jesus experienced greater grief from the fruitlessness of Israel. The Pharisees and scribes had an outward appearance of righteousness but inwardly they were unholy and hypocritical.
Even today, there are those who are spiritually hypocritical and attempt to deceive others. They call themselves by the name of Christ but their profession is without practice and their lives do not bear fruit. Just as false advertisers face severe consequences, the fig tree faced Christ’s judgment. Jesus cursed the fig tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” (Mark 11:14)
The next day, the disciples passed by the same fig tree and its roots were dry, trunk deteriorated and leaves withered. Christ’s response was not vindictive but judgmental; the fig tree was cursed not for being barren but for being false! Christ will patiently water, fertilize and prune our lives to bring forth fruit yet an unrepentive, self-righteous and hypocritical heart will not yield to His love, only to His judgment. Repentance must precede hypocrisy and…brokenness before fruit!