The Scriptorium

When Jesus Comes Seeking Fruit

We'd better have something to show Him. Matthew 21.18, 19

Matthew 21 The End of the Beginning (3)

Pray Psalm 92.1-4.
It is
good to give thanks to the LORD,
And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning,
And Your faithfulness every night,
On an instrument of ten strings,
On the lute,
And on the harp,
With harmonious sound.
For You, LORD, have made me glad through Your work;
I will triumph in the works of Your hands.

Sing Psalm 92.1-4.
(Sweet Hour: Sweet Hour of Prayer)
How good it is to thank the Lord and praise to God Most High accord.
By day to let His kindness ring, His faithfulness by night to sing.
With ten-stringed lute, resounding lyre, and sweetest harp we’ll lift You higher.
For You have made our souls rejoice; we sing Your praise with blended voice!

Read Matthew 21.1-19; meditate on verses 18, 19.

1. What was Jesus seeking?

2. What happened to the fig tree?

I suppose to some readers, Jesus’ action here might seem a bit petty. He came looking for something to eat, and when He didn’t find anything, He cursed the tree, and it withered away “immediately”.

In order to understand what’s happening here, and what the lesson is for us, we need to take a few steps back and look at this passage from Jesus’ perspective, rather than our own. We only see a momentary action; Jesus sees an eternal truth. We see a kind of petulance; Jesus sees an opportunity to spare us from withering before Him.

Locked as we are in our materialistic view of the world, we tend to think that whatever the order of things is, that’s the way things are supposed to be. Mark tells us (11.12-14), that the reason Jesus didn’t find any figs on this tree was that “it was not the season for figs.” It was “unreasonable” for Jesus to expect otherwise, we might think.

But when the Lord comes looking for fruit, not even that excuse will hold up.

We may expect that, on the last day, when all people are judged according to their works (Jn. 5.28, 29), we will hear many inventive reasons why fruit was lacking in their lives. “I didn’t have the time to do good works.” “I wasn’t sure about what to do.” “Those people You put in my life didn’t deserve any good from me.” “I didn’t think You meant it; after all, I prayed to receive You, didn’t I?” Such reasons are merely excuses for disobedience. A day is coming when Jesus will identify those who truly believe in Him by the abiding fruit they have borne in their lives (Jn. 15.4-6). If we abide in Him, nothing can prevent us from bearing fruit. Whatever excuses we might use today for failing to bear fruit for the Lord, simply won’t hold up when Jesus comes again, looking for fruit.

Let the lesson of the fig tree sink deep into your soul. Abide in Jesus, and bear fruit for Him day by day, in all you do.

1. What kind of fruit is Jesus expecting us to bear? When?

2. What are some reasons we often fail to bear fruit for the Lord?

3. How can you prepare each morning so that, at every opportunity throughout the day, you will bear fruit for the Lord?

It was not his will to exhibit his anger upon men. Rather upon the plant he furnished the proof of his might in taking vengeance. But when such things are done, whether to places, or to plants, or to brutes, do not be overly curious about the divine will. Do not say, “Was it just that the fig tree withered?” especially if it was not yet the time of figs. This sort of question is the utmost trifling
. Just behold the miracle and admire and glorify the worker of it. John Chrysostom (344-407), The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 67.1

Lord, I will have many opportunities to bear fruit for You today, so help me to…

Pray Psalm 92.5-15.
What’s before you today? Pray that God will make you fruitful for Him and His Kingdom in all you do.

Sing Psalm 92.5-15.
Psalm 92.5-15 (Sweet Hour: Sweet Hour of Prayer
How sweet Your works, Your thoughts how deep: The fool cannot such knowledge keep.
Like grass the wicked rise each day; in judgment they are swept away.
But You, O Lord, abide on high; Your enemies shall fall and die.
All those who sin shall scattered be, but, Lord, You have exalted me!

My eye my vanquished foe shall see; my ears hear those who threaten me.
Yet in God’s house, where he belongs, the righteous like a tree grows strong.
Then let us green and fruitful be and flourish like a mighty tree,
to tell God’s righteousness abroad: He is our Rock, our sovereign God!

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from
Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore