Just this morning, I was peering out the window to enjoy the plants in the garden that my dad had been faithfully tending for about 20 years. Shocked, I saw some broken branches and flowers on the ground. My mum explained that dad had pruned the shrub just yesterday.
Not a gardener myself, I couldn’t understand the concept of cutting the branches away but I found out that pruning is essential for the health and growth of the plant. Even Jesus taught about pruning.
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:1-2).
And He prunes us so that we can grow spiritually.
After Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, Jesus went into the temple courts, and they left for Bethany that night. The next morning, Jesus and His disciples left Bethany. Jesus was hungry and He saw from a distance a fig tree in leaf.
Surprisingly, the fig tree was one of the most important trees in the Bible. Its sweet taste was even described in the Bible (Judges 9:11).
In the Old Testament, prophets used the fig tree as a sign of judgment (Isa. 34:4; Jer. 29:17; Hos. 2:12, 9:10; Joel 1:7; Micah 7:1). The good figs were used to describe faithful believers (Jer. 24:2-3); while rotten figs were used to describe wicked men (Jer. 24:2-8).
Jesus was hungry but as He examined the fig tree, He could not find any fruits, though it was full of leaves. Verse 13 tells us that it was not the season for figs yet, but the main concept here is that if the tree had leaves, it means, the tree should also be producing fruits.
Jesus was angry at the tree because it was not producing fruits when it promised it could. Jesus then cursed the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again”. His disciples heard Him. The tree was not bearing any fruits as it was supposed to do, so Jesus removed it.
This is a reminder for us today that Jesus is not just a friendly, gentle, humble, loving person. He is loving and gentle and humble and He also expects His disciples to be committed and faithful to Him. He expects us to bear much fruit for the glory of our Father in Heaven.
If Jesus is examining you right now, what will He see? Will He see that you are faithful and fruitful? Will He see that you are bearing good fruits for God? Or He can only find leaves, and no fruits?
Today, we have received so many spiritual blessings. We have a church to help us to grow and to serve God and one another, we have friends here to journey with us in our spiritual journey, we are also blessed with such a rich spiritual legacy handed down to us by our Methodist forefathers, John Wesley and Charles Wesley.
There should not be any excuse for not bearing good fruits for God, unless we choose not to bear fruits, like the fig tree.
Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5)
Jesus said we can bear much good fruits only in Him. “A good tree can not bear bad fruit, and a bad tree can not bear good fruit” (Matt 7:18)
For those who are in Jesus, we bear good fruit. The good fruit include transformation in our lives: there is a new sense of purpose and deepest joy in our daily lives, knowing that we have been reconciled with our Creator (2 Cor. 5:17), we continue to grow to bear the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:19-23) and we are excited to tell others about what Jesus has done in our lives (Acts 1:8)
However, Jesus also warns if we are slacking in bearing good fruit in John 15: 6, “If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into fire and burned.”
This was what happened to the fig tree. It was not producing fruits. So, Jesus cursed it not to bear any more fruits. And the next day when Jesus and His disciples passed by, Peter noticed that the fig tree had withered (Mark 11:20-21) from the roots up. This was something unusual as trees usually withered from the top to bottom. There was total destruction to this fig tree.
However, there is hope for every one of us to start afresh. When we are not fruitful, Jesus will come and prune us by teaching us, disciplining us so that we can be spiritually healthy and fruitful. We will then bear good fruits for His glory (Heb. 12:5-11; Rev. 3:19).
John 15:8, Jesus says, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples”. When we bear good fruits, it shows to other people that we are the disciples of Jesus.
Let us abide in Jesus and may He come and prune us, so that our lives will glorify Him.