Fruitlessness

John Koedyker

Read: Mark 11:12-14, 20-21

And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves. (v. 13)

Of all the stories in the Gospel of Mark, this seems to be one of the strangest. Jesus is hungry and sees a fig tree. He goes over to see if there is any fruit, but there isn’t any—only leaves. This seems to displease Jesus, and he curses the tree: “May no one ever eat fruit from you again” (v. 14).

The next day when Jesus and his disciples pass the same tree, they see that it has withered and died. This certainly doesn’t seem like something Jesus would normally do. He is always using his powers for positive ministry. But here he destroys something—a tree.

Whatever we may think about this incident, Jesus’ interaction with the tree illustrates the importance of bearing fruit. For example, in Matthew 7:16, Jesus says of false prophets, “You will recognize them by their fruits.” And in Luke 3:8-9, John the Baptist says, “Bear fruits in keeping with repentance . . . Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

These statements should serve as a stark warning to us that Jesus has little use for would-be disciples who do not bear fruit. The apostle James affirms the same: “Faith apart from works is dead” (James 2:26).—John Koedyker

As you pray, ask the Father to help your faith bear fruit that blesses others.