Then He said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And His disciples heard Him say it. (Mark 11:14)
This section of Scripture (Mark 11:12-25) is one that I find confusing. What did the fig tree to do deserve to be cursed by Jesus? And yet Jesus uses the fig tree event as an opportunity to teach His disciples about faith, prayer and forgiveness.
“Have faith in God,” is Jesus’ response to His disciples’s amazement over the shriveled fig tree. Because of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem and His sacrificial death outside that city’s walls, we are now adopted into the family of God. It is faith that opens our hearts to receive this undeserved, incredible gift. And with our new status as an unconditionally forgiven and infinitely loved children of God, you and I can go to our heavenly Father and ask for anything—absolutely anything!—and truly believe that God is already inclined to grant our request with generosity that is infinite in its goodness. With faith in God, that is, as we actually live as the beloved, forgiven children of God that we are, we can ask Abba Father for things which are far more amazing that a shriveled fig tree and He will make it so.
But praying half-heartedly or not forgiving those who sin against us means that we have forgotten who we are. Our prayers become the pleadings of one who does not belong, instead of the confident requests of a beloved daughter or son. Our hearts resist releasing those who hurt us into the loving care of God because we do not believe in the loving care of God for us. So we cry for justice for ourselves, but it is revenge and retribution that rule in our hard hearts, and our lives become as fruitless as the fig tree Jesus encountered on the way to the temple.
When Jesus cursed the fig tree, He made permanent what was already true. On our own, you and I are unable to bear fruit, just like that fig tree. But Jesus came into this world to give us a new life, a new identity and a new destiny. And as we rest in Him and He lives His life through us, our lives will bear much fruit.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for bringing me into the family of God. Please help me to live as a beloved, forgiven child of our Heavenly Father. Help me to rest in You. Amen.