I’m not all that familiar with many different kinds of fruit trees. I’ve had a few on various properties over my lifetime; apple, orange, cherry, pear and apricot to name a few. These few I can recognize. But I have never seen a fig tree in person. Not until I looked at google images did I have any idea of the size of a typical fig tree. Seeing its size and incredible shade puts this story from Mark into more perspective for me.
“On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.” (Mark 11:12-14)
You see, the ‘typical’ fig tree offers a few benefits about it. During its season, it obviously produces figs, but even out of fig season, it still produces significant shade from the hot sun. The particular fig tree in this story was doing exactly what everyone would expect a fig tree to do in that particular season. It was producing shade since it was ‘in leaf’, but it was not yet bearing fruit since ‘it was not the season for figs’.
To everyone else, that tree was fine. Even to the disciples, nothing seemed out of sorts. But Jesus was expecting something more of it. He was expecting fruit (even out of season). But since the tree did not respond to the calling of the Lord, He cursed it.
I’ve heard this story a hundred times as it’s part of the Good Friday story leading to the crucifixion of Christ. But never before today have I observed the spiritual message in these two verses.
Many of us are that tree. From a distance we look good. We even are doing everything that society would expect us to do. We have certain seasons in our life where we are more or less fruitful but we seem to respond to those seasons accurately. Even out of season, we still provide some protection and shelter to those around us. Like that fig tree, we seem like we’re doing everything right. That is until Jesus calls upon us.
Jesus will not always call upon you in your ‘normal’ season. He will often expect you to serve in a way that seems untimely to your own expectations. The question is, will you respond like this tree? Will you be satisfied with living as society seems fit (even your Christian circle of friends), or will you shift to serve Him, even out of season?
Sometimes we are called to serve Jesus in a way we never expected. It doesn’t line up with our plan. It doesn’t seem to fit our timetable. It’s not what even our other Christian friends think is the right timing for us. But He calls us anyway. When He does, how will you respond?
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