Jesus says He is living water, that anyone who drinks of Him never thirsts. Jeremiah writes:
“7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord (Happy is the person who trusteth in the Lord), and the Lord shall be his trust.
8 And he shall be as a tree, which is planted over waters, which sendeth his roots to moisture; and it shall not dread, when heat shall come; and the leaf thereof shall be green, and it shall not be moved in the time of dryness, neither any time it shall fail to make fruit. (And he shall be like a tree, which is planted by the waters, which sendeth out its roots to moisture; and it shall not have any fear, when the heat shall come; and its leaves shall be green, and it shall not be moved in the time of drought, nor at any time shall it fail to make fruit.)”
Jesus says He is the vine while those who trust in Him are the branches. As long as the branches are attached to the vine, life-giving sap provides nourishment for the production of fruit. Even in a drought, in the heat of the sun, the leaves on the vine remain green and the fruit never fails to appear in season.
Let us remain planted over Living Water; let us remain in the Vine; and may our fruit always be pleasing to the Lord.
After leaving Bethany, Jesus sees a fig tree in the distance. He is hungry, so He goes to the tree “to see if He can find anything on it.” (Mark 11:13) He finds only leaves; “for it was not the season for figs.” Then, Jesus curses the tree, “May no one ever again eat fruit from you!” (Mark 11:14)
Jesus expects fruit from the tree even though it is not the proper season for figs. I’ve thought about this many times, usually in passing so as to avoid that nagging suspicion that Jesus is being unfair to the fig tree. Today, I thought about this odd curse again. Why would Jesus expect fruit on a tree during a season in which He should expect to find no fruit?
Jesus expects fruit from His followers. And, there is no season in which we are allowed to remain fruitless. Perhaps we are the fig tree. We may display a lovely canopy of leaves, but Jesus may not find any fruit on our branches. He speaks of the fruitless servant, the one who hides the talent given to him in the ground for fear of his master. The master asks why the servant didn’t at least invest the talent and so earn some sort of return.
We are expected to earn a return on God’s investment in us. Like the fig tree Jesus finds out of season, we are incapable of producing fruit. Unlike the fig tree which does have a season for fruit, we have no fruit producing flowers — our ability to create fruit is entirely dependent upon the gardener, Jesus.
Jesus curses the fig tree because it offers no fruit when God expects it. The fact that it is not the season for figs is actually beside the point. Like the tree out of season, we have no ability to be fruit-bearing; therefore, God has every right to expect a return on His investment. After all, the investment is His, not ours.
Jesus says, “Always treat others as you would like them to treat you: that is the Law and the prophets.” Our Lord calls this the “second great commandment;” otherwise known as “love your neighbor as yourself.”
Yet, Jesus also says, “Do not give dogs what is holy; do not throw your pearls to the pigs: they will only trample on them, and turn and tear you to pieces.” (Matthew 7:6) And, He warns: “Beware of false prophets, men who come to you dressed up as sheep while underneath they are savage wolves. You recognize them by the fruits they bear.” (Matthew 7:15-16)
Jesus tells us to be wise as well as kind toward others. Yet, He says, “Pass no judgment, and you will not be judged.” He warns that “whatever measure you deal out to others will be dealt back to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2)
If you wish to be treated well, then treat others well. If you wish to be given the benefit of the doubt, then give that benefit to the other. If you desire love, then love. If you desire peace, be peaceful. If you crave kindness and considerate behavior, be kind and considerate. Don’t “look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye, with never a thought to the great plank in your own!” (Matthew 7:3-4)
Remember, “a good tree cannot bear bad fruit, or a poor tree good fruit.” (Matthew 7:18) “That is why you recognize them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:19) Nevertheless, treat others as you desire them to treat you. And, “your Father who sees what is secret will give you your reward.” (Matthew 6:18)
What fruit? asks Paul. What sort of fruit did you produce “when you were slaves of sin?” (Romans 6: 20) You produced the fruit of death is his answer. “For the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6: 23) This fruit of sin and death is fruit of which you are now ashamed. And, “just as you offered the parts of yourselves as slaves to moral impurity, and to greater and greater lawlessness, so now offer them as slaves to righteousness, which results in sanctification.” (Romans 6: 19) After all, says Paul, “you have been liberated from sin and have become enslaved to God” so that now “your fruit…results in sanctification — and the end is eternal life.” (Romans 6: 22)
So what fruit are you producing? Jesus says a tree is known by its fruit — a bad tree is incapable of producing good fruit.
I may misunderstand fruit trees, but I believe a good tree is capable of producing fruit which goes bad — fruit on a good tree does occasionally rot and fall to the ground unfit for eating. But as a good tree grows stronger and more rooted in its soil, its fruit is more and more often good for eating.
As Paul exhorts, give your “allegiance to righteousness.” (Romans 6: 20) “Walk in a new way of life. For if we are joined with [Christ] in the likeness of His death, we are certainly also in the likeness of His resurrection.” (Romans 6: 4 – 5) Therefore “consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6: 11)