“Out Of Season” ( Mark 11:14, NEB ) by Carley Evans

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.

“To All Nations” ( Mark 13: 10, NIV ) by Carley Evans

Jesus privately tells Peter, James, John and Andrew about the future destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. At the same time, He speaks of His return and “the beginning of the birth pains” when “nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines.” Jesus also states, “And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.”

Some of us seem to be hung-up on the when of Jesus’ return, even getting excited when Japan was hit by the largest magnitude earthquake ever recorded in that country. In actuality, there have always been earthquakes, famines, and wars — they are not particularly more prevalent now than in our past.

The key element upon which few seem to focus is Jesus’ emphatic statement that “the gospel must first be preached to all nations.” Missionaries are indeed located around the world, but somewhere there is a tribe — yes? — not yet reached. There are peoples who have never heard of their Savior, Jesus Christ.

Paul says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!'” (Romans 10:13-15)

Jesus commands, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19)