Lessons from a Fruitless Tree | Mark 11

Introduction

Lets see what Mark 11 has to say about the Fruitless Tree, before that lets look how in Mark 11 Jesus is entering the city of Jerusalem. This journey had begun roughly about 6 months prior and He had also traveled through quite some places, ministering, and healing many.

This is an interesting week because many things are to happen that week which would end up in the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. So, on the first day, Jesus entered Jerusalem on a colt and the crowds began to clasp their coats and put palm branches in the way to provide a red carpet for Jesus. We call that as the triumphal entry.

Jesus and his disciples reached the temple in Jerusalem and they looked at things. Jesus was not happy with what he saw there but when evening came they left and went back to that little town of Bethany where they spent the night.

The next morning something very unusual happens. It is recorded for us in Mark 11:12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Either they had not had breakfast or it had been a while since they had breakfast. Jesus who was hungry, saw a fig tree and went to it for food.

Mark 11:13 

Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs.

Now Jesus is almighty God. He knew there were no figs, but he deliberately went to that fig tree. The tree was full of leaves but Jesus could not even find a single fruit. Of course it was not the season for figs but Jesus still expected fruit from this tree.

Then Jesus did something unusual. 

Mark 11:14 

Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.

Now I wonder what his disciples thought when they heard that, because it really did catch their attention. They must have taken a step back, looked at Jesus and wondered about that, “Why would Jesus do that? Is he impatient today? What happened to Jesus today? That Tree finds it impossible to give figs because it is not the time for figs, doesn’t he understand!”

Jesus then went to Jerusalem. It was sure an eventful day. He cast over the tables of the money changers and rebuked them. Jesus was caught up for the zeal of God’s house that day that we never find the mention of his hunger again then in the evening he went out of that city again.

The next morning, 24 hours after confronting that fig tree they passed the same route and Peter saw that the fig tree was dried up from the roots. Now Jesus had declared that the tree will never give fruit again, but now it is dead. Jesus just destroyed a fruitless tree!

Peter thought of the strange experience from the day before brought it to Jesus’ attention. 

Mark 11:21 

Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”

Peter is indirectly asking Jesus why did you curse the fig tree, While doing that Peter diplomatically calls Jesus’ attention to it as if Jesus did not know it. Well Jesus knew that, he could see it. He is God therefore He knows everything and he gave them an answer.

Mark 11:22-25 

22“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23“Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

Jesus’ answer is not a direct answer here rather It is as if Jesus is addressing another topic entirely and we feel it is not connected to the fig tree. Jesus was teaching his disciples here because His days are numbered and so He used the fig tree as an example to teach them some valuable lessons.

LESSONS FROM A FRUITLESS FIG TREE!

1. God has the right to expect everything from me

This is talking about our physical blessings like life, health, job, family, money, talents, time etc. also remember God is over all. Certainly, all good and perfect gift is from God, because He is the creator Go and He is the source of all our blessings therefore God can expect it back at anytime. God has the right to expect back everything that he has given you like in the life of Job. Remember God expected figs from the tree at a time it cannot bear fruit, so God has the right to expect from us even which is too difficult to give. Therefore we need to learn to give it all to God.

Illustration

Abraham was praying for the promised son. Finally God blessed Abraham with Isaac. One day God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there.” It was a tough choice for Abraham. God was asking something that was too difficult to give.

One day while Jesus was going along the Sea of Galilee he turned to Simon and Andrew and said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” God was asking their business, their profession and they left their nets and followed him.

In Mark 10 when the rich man came to Jesus he said, “Go sell everything you have and give it to the poor and follow me.” What is that God is expecting out of you this morning? Are you willing to give back to God what he has given you? For some it is your family? For some it is your job? and to some it is your friends? Remember God comes first.

Today God is expecting a sacrificial Christian living from you. God is calling some for full-time ministry. God is calling some to start using your gifts in the presence of God and he is also reminding many to use your resources, time, money and energy for the glory of God. Are you willing to give your best to God? God has the right to expect everything from you and me.

2. It is impossible for man to give what God wants

That sounds dreadful isn’t it? The fig tree could not give Jesus what he expected. Man can never meet up with the spiritual standards that God expects from us.

God expects us to be in fellowship with him and it is impossible by our own effort. We are sinners born into this world bearing the sin nature. So here is the fig tree. The fig tree could not give figs, so what is the result: The fig tree dries up. It speaks of death and judgment. Bible says it is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgment. Man is in trouble like this tree but I am so glad that that is not the end of the story.

Do you remember the young wealthy man came to Jesus in Mark 10? He wanted to go to heaven. He loved God and kept all of the OT law diligently. Jesus complimented him on that but then he was not willing to give up his riches and so he went away. See you cannot meet God’s requirements yourself. The disciples said, “If this good man who pleases God cannot be saved, then who can be saved?” Do you remember Jesus’ reply? With man this is impossible, but not with God, all things are possible with God.

Man cannot please God by the way of his own virtues

Dear friend, you cannot please God by the way of your own virtues or your works but all things are possible with God. God can do for you what you cannot do for yourself.

When Peter asked Jesus about the mystery of the fig tree, Jesus’ answer was direct into the point – Have faith in God. What does that mean? By trusting God (faith) you can reach up to God’s standards.

I am speaking to some who do not know Jesus Christ as savior. You are maybe doing many things to earn goodwill from God. Man can never reach the standards of God. The Bible says that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. The Bible also says that the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. God has made it possible through Jesus Christ. John 3:16. Jesus never did any sin. He took your place to die for you. That death and judgment which is certain was laid upon Jesus. If you have faith in God you can be saved.

Now I want to speak to fellow believers about something that we struggle with from time to time. God has made us his children and given us the victory but how many times we are tempted by the devil and we fail?

Then we come to God crushed with tears and ask for forgiveness. 

1 John 1:9

 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. God cleanses us but then we go back out, we fall short again, don’t we? The flesh gets a hold of us, we begin to doubt, we do not trust God as we ought to. Perhaps there is rebellion like Jonah or betrayal like Peter. Perhaps it is our acts of sin but time after time we fall into that. We become so discouraged until after some time God’s people think there is no hope.

How is it that a believer can have victory in Christ? Do I have to live with a crushed heart and anguish all my life? My friend, you do not have to live like that. You will have to trust God. What did Jesus do for you when he saved you by faith? Jesus forgave your sins, He made you a member of the family of God and He set you on the road to heaven and He also made you a partaker of the divine nature. Your spirit was born again within you. A part of you have the very nature of God. There is abundant life. Well it all came by trusting God.

Now, just as we are saved by faith, we need to continue our Christian lives faith. 

Colossians 1:6-7

 6So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Have faith in God in your day to day lives. So the next time the devil tempts you to be all down on yourself, just get on your knees and confess your sins. God’s word says that you are accepted in the beloved and that he will present you faultless, not that you will present yourself faultless and trust him to do that in your life. Have faith in God.

3. Produce fruit in and out of season

Productive Christian lives start with producing the fruit of the spirit – Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. When we produce the fruit of the spirit, automatically our lives become fruitful. But how many times we get troubled, afraid, lose our peace and become unfruitful? The enemy makes you angry, sad, depressed, frustrated, impatient, and rude. No, our peace is not circumstantial; we need to be producing the fruit at all times.

Jeremiah 17:7-8

7But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. 8They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

How can I produce fruit?


a. Have faith in God.

Mark 11:22 

“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. No matter what happens your faith in God should keep you going. If God is for us, who can be against us. So do not lose your cool, peace of mind when people fail you.

b. Pray without ceasing.

Mark 11:24

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours

c. Have a forgiving spirit.

Mark 11:25

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

Unforgiveness can choke the tree in its root. 

Hebrews 12:14-15

14Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

The fig tree dried up from its root, unforgiveness leads to bitter roots that lead to fruitlessness and eventual destruction. We need to take out every bitter root of unforgiveness. Is there any unforgiveness in your life?

A man was walking with his very best friend. As they walked, they began to argue about some issue. The more they argued, the angrier they became. They got so angry that one man lost his temper and shoved his friend away. His friend stumbled and fell upon a board, which had a loose, rusty nail sticking up from it. The nail pierced the man’s friend in the back.

The man, immediately sorry for what he had done, picked his friend up to wash his wound and remove the nail. “I’m so sorry,” he kept saying. “I don’t know what came over me. Please forgive me!”

“That’s your problem,” his friend said. “You’ve always had a bad temper. I’m going to teach you a lesson. I’m going to leave this rusty nail in my back so that every time you see it you will remember what your bad temper did you me.” Even when the nail eventually began to infect the wound in the friend’s back, the friend refused to remove it and continued to remind the man of what he had done and how wrong he was, right up until the day that the infection from the nail finally killed him. Unforgiveness destroys.

Conclusion

What is it that God is speaking to you through the fruitless fig tree today? What is it that God is asking from you? Are you producing fruit keeping with repentance? Let’s have faith in God be fruitful in our Christian lives. Amen.