Death of a Fig Tree
I. Matthew 21:18-22
A. I get uncomfortable reading this passage.
1. Here is a fig tree, that happens to lack figs when Jesus walks by.
2. Then Jesus kills it
B. The disciples are caught up in amazement that by simply speaking, Jesus killed a fig tree.
1. But why destroy a tree to make this point?
2. Jesus’ miracles are usually beneficial. Why is this one different?
II. People who believe in that God is so loving that He will not destroy mankind have a hard time with this passage.
A. Romans 11:17-22
1. God dealt severely with the Israelites. They were not obedient, so God cut them off.
2. And we, the Gentiles, will not be treated any differently
B. John taught that the rejection of the Jews was fast approaching - Matthew 3:7-10
1. The Jews were no longer productive for God.
2. They were no longer obedient to God’s Will.
C. This is not usual. God had rejected the Jews before - Isaiah 5:1-7
1. A vineyard that will not produce grapes is not worth cultivating.
2. A people who will not follow God is not worth saving.
3. Fig trees put on fruit before the leaves come out.
a. In fact the presence of leaves is an indication that the figs are ripe.
b. This tree had leaves, but no figs, not even unripe ones.
c. It was a type of the Jews of Jesus’ day. They looked righteous but were unproductive – they had no fruit
D. God will not always be tolerant of our misdeeds - Luke 13:6-9
1. The Jews thought they were something special because they were God’s chosen people.
2. Christians can fall into the same trap. We are specially protected from the wrath of God. We too must be productive for our Lord.
E. John 15:1-8
1. We must bear fruit or we will be discarded.
2. A vine-dresser does feel sympathy for a dead branch. It is removed before diseases spread to the healthy vines.
III. Some Christians look healthy, but they are not
A. Some have only a form of godliness - II Timothy 3:5
1. U.S. Congregation Survey, 2001, Church leaders’ answers
a. “The Bible is the word of God, to be taken literally, word for word”
b. “The Bible is the word of God, to be interpreted in the light of its historical and cultural context”
(1) The intent here is to measure those who think the message of the Bible changes because we don’t live in the same time.
c. “The Bible is the word of God , to be interepted in the light of its historical context and the church’s teachings.”
(1) The intent is to measure those who think the message of the Bible can be changed by the church
d. “The Bible is not the word of God, but contains God’s word for us.”
(1) Those who reject inspiration
e. “The Bible is not the word of God but is a valuable book”
2. In a survey of 103 bishops in the Church of England, only 3 believed the Bible’s version of creation as truth, 80 doubted the story of Adam and Eve, about 25 did not believe Jesus was born to a virgin.
3. Clergy, in answer to the statement: The Scriptures is the inspired and inerrant Word of God in faith, history, and secular matters, answered “No.” [Jeffery Hadden, 1987 survey of 10,000 American clergy]
a. 95% of Episcopalians
b. 87% of Methodists
c. 82% of Presbyterians
d. 77% of Lutheran
e. 67% of American Baptists
4. It makes you wonder why they are in their occupation. They are only there for show.
5. This is why so many are comfortable with voting on the commandments and teachings of God.
B. Some claim to follow God, but their deeds show otherwise - Titus 1:16
1. It is not what you claim, but what you claim and do.
2. Far too many Christians will talk about their faith, but their lives show that worldly things are far more important to them.
C. “A small business man was having sales trouble. His product was good, his prices were fair, and he had a large sales force. He decided to call in an expert to given him an outsider’s viewpoint. After he had gone over his plans and problems, the businessman took the consultant to a map on the wall and showed him the brightly colored pins stuck wherever he had a salesman. Looking at the expert, he asked, ‘Now, for a starter, what is the first thing we should do?’ ‘Well,’ replied the expert, ‘the first thing is to take the pins out of the map and stick them in the salesmen.’
IV. We must produce true deeds of righteousness
A. I John 3:16-18 - Love in deed and in truth
B. James 1:22-25 - Prove yourselves doers of God’s Word
C. It does not take fancy systems or marvels of organization to spread the gospel - Acts 8:3-4
1. Saul was the pin in the Christians.
2. People talked where they went and people responded to the message.
V. The fruit of the Spirit - Galatians 5:22-25
A. Does this describe you? Are you productive for the Lord?