The Fig Tree's Story

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Today we’re going to examine a simple object lesson that Jesus gives us as He leaves Bethany heading back to Jerusalem one day.
This lesson was most certainly directed toward the Jews as a nation, but is not isolated to them entirely. As what Jesus did unto the Jews, He most certainly can / has done unto many churches as well.
Paul addressed this very thing to the church at Rome in Rom. 11:19-21 “Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.”
So we’ll take a look at the Fig Tree’s Story and prayerfully it will serve as warning unto us here today.
The first thing that we notice in this passage is the Position of the Tree

I. The Position of the Tree (v12)

The Description
We notice that the first description of this Fig Tree was that it was ‘afar off’. In other words, it wasn’t close to Jesus
This image tells us a lot concerning the issue at hand.
The Application
As mentioned, the Fig Tree is actually an illustration of the Jewish people. Particularly, the Jewish religious leaders. God had ordained their doings, yet they strayed so far from what God had instructed, they were in essence a shadow of what they should have been. This is the reason why the majority of the religious leaders were anti-Christ. This is why the high priest and the chief priests tried Him illegally and demanded that He be crucified!
Mind you - there were a few of the religious leaders that weren’t ungodly. Nicodemus was a ruler of the Jews, as was Joseph of Arimathea, neither of them were ungodly, but they were the few… by far the majority were exactly that - UNGODLY.
I also think that those type percentages bear out today concerning all of the ‘churches’ that stand and have services each Sunday. The majority are ‘afar off’ from Jesus. There are a few that are not - a few keep the faith, but they are few and far between.
So how does a church stand ‘afar off’ from Jesus?
Churches stand ‘afar off’ from Jesus by:
Denying His Word
Denying the Authenticity of His Word
Most churches today don’t believe that we actually have God’s Word.
Many believe that God’s Word only exists in the original languages.
And even still, we only have the ‘most reliable’ - what does that even mean?!?
Let me set your mind at ease, church - we have God’s Word today. It’s perfectly preserved by God unto english speaking people in the King James Bible.
The truth is this: If you don’t believe in the authenticity of God’s Word, your entire theology is built on shifting sand!
Church stand ‘afar off’ because they deny the Authenticity of God’s Word - that He’s able to preserve it for you and I through the ages.
Denying the Authority of His Word
Many (judging by their actions) deny the Authority of His Word
How can the Joyce Meyers of this world stand there and say ‘Thus saith the LORD’, knowing 1Tim. 2:12 “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”
How can the Joel Osteens of this world puff up their congregations, giving them words to declare over themselves - lifting man up, when Jesus said: Joh. 12:32 “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”
Many churches deny the Authority of God’s Word
Denying the Accuracy of His Word
Going back to the women preachers for a minute - one of the arguments against 1Tim. 2:12 is that ‘Well it was against the culture for women to have authority back in those days’ As if God is somehow bound by the culture of the time.
Many deny the accuracy of His Word
Embracing the World
In it’s Music
Many churches today embrace popular music as a means to attract the world. However, Scripture teaches us over and over the place for a Christian is to be in the world, but that the world not be in him!
We’re to be Holy
We’re to be Separate
But popular Christianity is using the all-too-powerful means of music to ‘worship’. Which reminds me of Rom. 1:25 “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.”
Churches stand ‘afar off’ by embracing worldly music
In it’s Message
The message from many other churches are very dissimilar than what you get here.
Judgment, Separation, Sanctification, Hell, Responsibilities, Service, Soul Winning - so much of these are foreign to many churches. In fact, what most churches offer up unto the Congregation any typical Sunday amounts to an extended devotion… something to give you the ‘feel goods’ for about 15-20 minutes, then send you on your way.
There is a reason why in these contemporary churches you get over an hour of ‘worship’ music and 15 minutes of preaching. They often reject Rom. 10:14 “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?”
Churches stand ‘afar off’ by the message they send forth
In it’s Methods
Many churches promote the same speech, dress, motives and priorities as does the world. Most churches are nothing more than a social gathering. A place to go where you feel like you’ve ‘served your time’ for God and give you the freedom to go and live as you please.
Most churches stand ‘afar off’ from Christ. That is their position. They would not agree with this statement, but if you’d have asked the Pharisees, they wouldn’t have either.
We see the Position of the Tree, Next we see the Production of the Tree

II. The Production of the Tree (v13)

It Appeared Fruitful
The fact that the tree had leaves on it, was an indication that fruit would be present as well.
So when Jesus looked upon it, it appeared as though He would have gleaned some fruit to His satisfaction.
It Appeared Fruitful, but upon further inspection, it was Actually Barren
It Actually was Barren
Although at a distance, it looked as though it was going to have much fruit, however it had none.
To so many people when they think of ‘church’, they lump every church in together as though there is no difference. ‘Church is church’. They are looking at church from a distance - so it all appears beautiful and fruitful.
(Ill) It’s interesting - seeing a lot of these protestant churches, and their ‘ministers’ and the way they dress. They’ll put on the fancy robes and sashes with pins & colors and all this elegance. And they’ll stand before congregations and make pronouncements and from a distance (Spiritually and intellectually) it looks like it’s ‘religious’. It LOOKS like there should be some fruit there… but in truth there isn’t.
This is much the way Jesus described the Pharisees: Mat. 23:5-7 “But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.” Mat. 23:25-28 “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.”
Jesus said those Pharisees LOOKED fruitful outwardly - but upon closer inspection, they were dead! Same as the Tree - AND SAME AS A MULTITUDE OF CHURCHES TODAY!
We see the Production of the Tree
We see the Position of the Tree, the Production of the Tree, Next we see the Pronouncement Over the Tree

III. The Pronouncement Over the Tree (v14)

The Reality was Known by Jesus
We notice that Jesus inspected it - and He knew the truth.
This bit of truth is so, so vital. So many people are living a life of charades. They wear a mask - and they pretend to be someone that they’re not.
Some pretend to be a Christian, when they are not
So many people go in and out of the doors of a place with the name ‘church’ on the side of it every week - whether it’s a Godly church or not, it doesn’t matter, as it happens everywhere. They’ve never really been born again. They pretend that they have, because everyone thinks they have, but instead of getting right with the LORD, they continue on this life living a lie. Why? PRIDE Prov. 16:18 “Pride goeth before destruction, And an haughty spirit before a fall.”
So many people are going to lift up their eyes in Hell simply because they would rather save face in front of man than get right with God - but I have news for you: You are not fooling God! God knows! God inspects the status of your heart! So you can die in your sins and while some preacher preaches your funeral and speaks of what a wonderful Christian you are, all the while you’re crying out for a drop of water to cool your tongue! YOU MAY FOOL THE PREACHER, BUT YOU WILL NOT FOOL GOD!
Some pretend to be right, when they are backslidden
There are some who truly know the LORD, and they act ‘holy’ and ‘right’, when their heart is actually far from God. Yet, they in like manner continue living a lie instead of getting right - all to save face.
Understand - it matter not if you impress man, what matters is what Christ KNOWS! HE KNOWS THE TRUTH!
The Reality of what the tree was, was known by Jesus - and Jesus responded accordingly
The Response of Jesus
Notice this: The tree didn’t say anything, did it? But yet the Bible tells us ‘And Jesus answered… in other words, Jesus responded to the status of the tree.
This morning in Sunday School, I spoke about the power and ability of free will. God has given us the freedom to choose our path. To choose to trust Him or reject Him. To choose to listen & heed His instruction, or ignore and forsake it. We can do whatever we choose to do - that’s the freedom of will that we enjoy. What we DON’T have is freedom of consequence.
The illustration here is that the tree produced the leaves, yet it didn’t produce fruit. It made a show, but it had no substance. And because of its actions, Jesus judged it accordingly. The tree’s ACTIONS spoke well of it’s STATUS.
We see the Pronouncement Over the Tree
We see the Position of the Tree, the Production of the Tree, the Pronouncement Over the Tree & Finally, the Permanence of the Tree

IV. The Permanence of the Tree

The Tree Dried Up and Died
Something to note:
While the disciples saw the status of the tree, it doesn’t mean that it was apparent to the population at large.
I’m not an arborist, therefore, I can look at trees and they might seem to me that they are perfectly healthy, but someone with a little knowledge looks at the same tree will see that it’s dead as yesterday dinner.
This goes back to the point I was making earlier, in that there are many churches who to the untrained eye appear alive and healthy - but someone with a little bit of insight and training and see the telltale signs that while they are standing, they have no life left in them.
The Tree Dried up and Died - because the Tree was Devoid of Nutrution
The Tree was Devoid of Nutrition
It lacked what it needed to survive. Notice that it ‘dried up from the roots’.
A church simply cannot survive unless it’s rooted into Christ - and there’s plenty of churches who have suffered that fate. Some will say ‘That’s crazy, God wouldn’t do that’ - oh yeah? Let’s see:
First let’s revisit Scripture we quoted during the introduction: Rom. 11:16-21 “For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
Secondly, let’s see what He said unto the church at Ephesus: Rev. 2:1-7; Rev. 2:5 “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”
A church without the Spirit of God as it’s nourishment, is just a building. God has, can and will forsake an assembly. We should not be highminded, but fear and remember Jesus’ words in Joh. 15:4-6 “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”
The tree died because it was Devoid of Nutrition.


We as a church should pray for the church - for our congregation, that we’ll not leave our first love, and if we have, we’ll repent and turn back unto God
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