The Lesson of the Fig Tree
July 22, 2018 Series: Trees
Passage: Mark 11:12–11:25
At first glance, it seems unfair of Jesus to pronounce a curse against the fig tree because it wasn't bearing fruit. However, even though "it was not the season for figs" at the time, the tree should have had immature figs that would still have been edible. The absence of even these unripe figs indicated that the tree truly was fruitless--it wasn't living up to its purpose as a fig tree.
There is a parallel between this episode with the fig tree and Jesus driving the merchants out of the temple. Like the fig tree, the temple was not living up to its purpose. God intended the temple to be "a house of prayer for all nations" (Isaiah 56:7). Instead, it had become a marketplace--and a crooked marketplace at that, "a den of robbers" (Jeremiah 7:11). Even worse, the merchants were hindering visitors to the temple from foreign lands, people who weren't part of the nation of Israel but who nonetheless came to the temple to worship the Lord.
Today, our churches often fail to live up to their purpose. Like the temple, our churches are to be houses of prayer for all nations. Instead, they can be more like faith-based country clubs or mutual admiration societies; we can care more about letting the "right" people in and keeping the "wrong" people out (for whatever definitions of "right" and "wrong" may apply) than about reaching out to all people regardless of the labels that the world may have stuck on them. The good news, though, is that Jesus came to renew the whole creation, and he can renew us and our churches as well. We can live up to our purpose, by the power of Jesus Christ.
To see this sermon in the context of the larger entire worship service, please open this bulletin.