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Mark 11:12-14 | The Branch That Bears Fruit

Mark 11:12-14 (NKJV), “Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 In response Jesus said to it, ‘Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.’ And His disciples heard it.”

1) We were made to bear fruit

In many ways, the Bible uses the metaphor of trees to represent us as humans. In the passage from Mark 11, Christ goes to a fig tree that is not in season and seeks to eat fruit from it. Despite its show of leaves, Jesus is disappointed by the tree--because it doesn’t have any fruit at all. In response, Christ curses the tree, and later in the chapter, we see that the tree has withered and died. What is going on here?

Christ’s purpose in coming down to Earth and dying for us on the cross was to reconcile man to God. The outcome of this reconciliation offered in Christ is the kingdom of God; God’s kingdom is His Spirit dwelling within us, and His power flowing out from our hearts. In this way, we bring the kingdom of God to earth, and He establishes His will through us because of the indwelling of Christ. And what are some identifiable characteristics in which we can identify God’s kingdom? We are told in Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV), “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” When the Spirit of God dwells within our hearts, the fruit that we bear will inevitably match His. Thus, referencing the metaphor of trees, God designed us to bear fruit.

But, according to the passage from Mark, not all trees bear fruit. Christ found a fig tree that demonstrated a show of leaves yet lacked figs entirely. One may ask, “But why is Jesus looking for figs on a tree that is not in its season?” A factor we must address in the passage from Mark is the presence of brevas on fig trees, or taqsh in Arabic. A taqsh is a little fruit that blooms on the fig tree before the main-crop figs bloom in season--it’s a predecessor of the fig that peasants and others would eat from the tree. The taqsh appears in the spring with the leaves and is a sign that the tree will bear main-crop figs in its season--an edible sign that the tree will bear fruit. Therefore, Jesus was doing something very common and not strange at all when He was looking for brevas to eat from the fig tree. Unfortunately, the fig tree provided nothing and, at the same time, demonstrated that it would produce nothing.

2) Produce fruit in keeping with repentance

Enlighten me: if we maintain the metaphor of us humans as trees, we find ourselves in a place of comparison; how do we know if we have fruit? Who has fruit, and who does not? Is Jesus going to curse me, and I am going to wither and die because I lack fruit? When we look through a lens that identifies the fig tree as ourselves, I believe God’s message to us all becomes clearer. If we attribute ourselves to the fig tree that Jesus curses, then we establish the truth that we do not bear Godly fruit by our own power and goodness. We see this in John 15:5