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Today as one of our readings, we look at Mark 11: 13-14; 20-21:
13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.
20 In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. 21 Then Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.”
This passage is one that always confused me a little. On Monday, before Jesus goes to the Temple to cleanse it, we see Him curse this fig tree. On Tuesday, as they are beginning to head out into teaching and ministry, the disciples notice that the tree that Jesus has cursed is now dead.
Why did He curse it? What is happening here? Especially when we read in verse 13 when it said it was not the season for figs. What is happening here?
Well, notice at the beginning of verse 13, it says the tree was in leaf. In other words, it was showing blooms like it was producing fruit. When Jesus comes closer we see that it was not producing fruit, instead, it was showing what is called “false fruit.” That will happen with fig trees sometimes in Isreal, they will look like are producing fruit, but there will not actually be anything there.
This is a warning to us about false fruit. This is a warning to avoid the religion of the Pharisees, the religion that looks good, that looks holy, that looks like it is producing the fruit of the spirit, but when you look closer, you see that the fruit is false. The fruit of God is not actually being produced.
It is false fruit.
There’s is a religion of appearance. It is a religion designed to look good. To look faithful. But actually is more focused on what others see than it is on truly serving and knowing God. The religion that God desires starts with the heart. That produces true fruit.
There are so many religious opportunities this week. Especially at St. Matthew’s. I would love for you to walk the stations of the cross, or come to worship or serve. These things are awesome and will bless you. But what I want most for you today is to open yourself up to the Holy Spirit to all God to convict you, to call you, to grow you, to speak to you. Our religion is not a religion of appearance. It is a heart religion.
This is not to say that outward actions do no matter; of course, they do. But it is to say that the true outward action must flow from a true heart seeking God. When our heart is changed, our actions, our motives, our very lives will change.
We can do the “stuff” of religion and be very far away from God. That is dangerous to us and to our souls. But the religion that God desires is a religion of heart change. When the heart is changed, life will follow.
Today, let’s be careful not to bear false fruit. Let’s set our hearts and eyes upon Jesus. And when our heart is set on Him our actions will be pure and will be an expression of thanks to our gracious God.
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