Alive Outside, Dead Inside

November 3, 2021

Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves. . . (Matthew 21:18-22).

On the 1st day of Passion Week, the crowds observed the 2nd cleansing of the Temple. It was a graphic denunciation of Judaism as a godless and spiritually dead worship system. On the 3rd day of Passion Week, Jesus and the disciples encountered a fig tree. The cursing of the fig tree was an equally graphic denunciation of Israel as a godless and spiritually dead people. The fig tree symbolized God’s blessing and prosperity for the nation of Israel. For behold, the stone that I have laid before Joshua: upon the stone are seven eyes. Behold, I will engrave its inscription,' says the LORD of hosts, 'and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. In that day,' says the LORD of hosts, 'everyone will invite his neighbor under his vine and under his fig tree' (Zechariah 3:9-10). The death of the fig tree heralded the death of the nation.

On the way to Jerusalem with the disciples, Jesus wanted a snack. He saw a fig tree by the side of the road. It had leaves. Mark 11:13 said was unusual for figs to appear on the tree at that time of year at that elevation. However, since the fig tree produced fruit before it produced leaves, there should have been fruit on the tree. Leaves, but no fruit.

The main theme of Jesus’ preaching was ‘bearing good fruit’. It is the unmistakable sign of a healthy plant. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire (Matthew 3:10). Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit (7:17-18).

It is the unmistakable sign of a spiritually healthy person. Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits (Matthew 7:15-16). Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me (John 15:4). Can the message be clearer? Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness (Matthew 23:27-28). This is yet another way of Jesus telling Israel they were alive physically but dead spiritually.

“Lord Jesus, open our eyes to the truth and affirm in our hearts that spiritual fruit in and from the Holy Spirit in our lives is proof positive of true spiritual life. May we be consistent in bearing spiritual fruit in Your Kingdom to Your honor and glory, Amen.”  


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