Anything But Typical
"In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry, and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, 'May you never bear fruit again!' And immediately the fig tree withered up." Matthew 21:18-19
I have to admit, I have often wondered about this brief mention in the Holy Bible about Jesus' encounter with the fig tree, especially because Mark's account of the story points out that it was too early in the season for fruit, so it wouldn't have been typical for the tree to have any fruit on it at all. But then, nothing Jesus ever did or does is typical, is it?
Jesus doesn't want us to be typical, either.
He doesn't waste anything--including teachable moments. When the disciples are amazed that the fig tree withers so quickly after Jesus curses it, He tells them that their faith can do even greater things. But, there is more to this story.
Recently, after the passing of my uncle, Billy Truett Nimmons, I was reminded of another truth from the fruitless fig tree. My Uncle Billy's life was anything but typical. He served passionately in love for others. He knew people--the little people--and he knew everything about them. He knew their stories, their struggles, and he worked tirelessly to make their lives better with the message of the gospel, and in tangible ways, too. But, it wasn't work to him. It was just living, and he did it with joy and zeal "as effortlessly as breathing," in my cousin, Deborah's, words.
But, what does that have to do with the story of the fig tree?
The Holy Bible teaches Christians that we are to be different, and that we may be hated for it. We are to be God’s peculiar treasure. Psalm 135:4 tells us, "For the Lord hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure." And, Titus 2:14 says, "Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
The fig tree Jesus cursed what most fig trees did. It wasn't bearing fruit because it wasn't fruit-bearing season. But Jesus was hungry! He was hungry now, and His hunger wasn't about to wait for the fig tree to come into season.
We are surrounded by many in this world who are hungry now, and they need the gospel now--whether it is a convenient time for us to share it or not. For many, their lives won’t wait for the good news. The time to share it is now.
The Holy Bible tells us in 2 Timothy 4:2, "Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching."
God desires that you and I be trees that bear fruit all year round--not just in a given season, and yes, that's anything but typical.
And that's exactly who we're called to be.