Holy Week: Are You Bearing Fruit?

Mark 11:12–14 (ESV)
"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."

To the uninitiated, these verses might simply depict Jesus as angry because He was hungry and thought there was food on the tree. But these verses have nothing to do with our Lord’s hunger. It’s about presenting the illusion of bearing fruit while the truth depicts just the opposite.

Specifically in these verses, Jesus is referring to Israel. The OT has represented Israel as such in a few places (Jeremiah 8:13; Hosea 9:10; Joel 1:7), so by using the fig tree as a symbol of the hypocrisy of Israel’s leaders, Jesus is, in effect, pronouncing the judgment of God on a fruitless people bound up in the rituals of men and full of self-righteousness.

It is poignant to observe the brevity between not bearing fruit and the judgment. It’s a lesson for us to recognize our time here on earth is also brief—with never a guarantee of tomorrow—and that we are to not put off our own “fruit bearing” for another day.

Just as Israel was set up for their own glorification, we too can become trapped by the world and seek our own honor and glory ahead of His. When we do this, we cease to be a part of the vine—a simple branch—and instead seek to take the role of the vine itself (John 15:1-5).

Verse 14 is a very sobering verse because in it we see the everlasting effects of not bearing fruit. In Matthew 5:13, Jesus spoke of the uselessness of salt if it loses its flavor. How easy it is to see this metaphor applied to us because we are living out selfish, fruitless lives. As I have written many times before, we are saved by grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), yet we are called to actively exercise our faith and bear fruit (James 2:17).

In Matthew 15:8, Jesus quotes Isaiah 29:13, verses that indicate a people that are hearers of the Word, but not doers of the Word. We can read and study our Bibles all day long, memorizing verse after verse, but if we are not bearing fruit towards others, we might as well be reading the latest fictional bestseller.

Our daily devotion to God should stir us to action to seek out the lost and help out those who are cast out and downtrodden. If we have no desire of service, then what good is our faith?

I pray God’s blessing on your life and that He opens doors of service up for you. This is why joining a church is so vital to the development of our individual faith. We join churches so we can be a part of something bigger than ourselves, a place where we can minister to our communities and develop our spiritual gifts in service to others.

Let us all bear much fruit, in season and out.