In Mark 11:12-14 Jesus was hungry and happened to walk past a fig tree. The tree was out of season and had no figs when Jesus began looking for food. Since it had no figs He said to the tree,”May no one ever eat fruit from you again” (Mk 11:14). It wasn’t like Jesus didn’t understand that the tree was out of season, even though He was hungry and probably legitimately frustrated, but He used it to illustrate a point to His disciples who were near by. Jesus was frustrated with the tree, but He was also frustrated with His journey and the response of so many of the people.
The tree illustrates the hard-hearted Jewish people who had been promised so much and who had waited so eagerly for their Messiah yet did not recognize Jesus for who he was. Even though they had strong roots they did not produce fruit, just like the fig tree. They had taken what was good and manipulated it into something that it was not. For example, in the next story in Mark Jesus goes to the temple and finds the money changers in the temple dealing unfairly and robbing the very people who were coming to worship God. The practice of selling animals for sacrifice was an accepted practice as people would have to come from great distances to make their sacrifices to God. The money changers had been gouging the people, taking advantage of them, and were now robbing them on their way to the Father. What had started off as an appropriate thing to do that would have helped people get closer to God had been marred and turned into something bad and thus needed to be pruned.
As Christians, followers of Christ, we have a calling to be fruitful and to be honest in all that we do.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
We are all called to bear fruit in all seasons of life. The Father will prune us so that we become more fruitful by slowly changing our lives. Pruning takes time and patience and cannot be done too quickly or else damage will be caused to the branch. During the pruning process the undesirable parts are trimmed back over time until that which is not of benefit to the branch is removed. This is not just a one and done process, it must continue for the full life of the tree if it is to be the most effective and reach its full potential. The same is true in our lives. Our Father is always pruning us by revealing things to us in our lives that do not belong. Some of us have been pruned longer than others, but the Father is always busy shaping us so that we can produce the most fruit. We always have a choice of how we respond to the pruning. We always have a choice to sprout where we have been pruned and produce new life or to simply wither away in that spot and leave a big scar.
So, are you producing fruit today? If not then what needs to change in your life to allow you to do that? John 15:8 says that “this is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” We must bear fruit if we want to show ourselves to be Jesus’ disciples. If we are not bearing fruit we must quickly re-examine our lives and act where we see the Holy Spirit moving. You see God is always active in our lives and is always using the Holy Spirit to mold us whether we recognize it or not. The question then remains, are we producing fruit and how can we become even more fruitful?