Intro: Sometimes the Lord does some things so apparently unreasonably severe, people “have cause” to doubt its truth or righteousness…
What we can’t satisfactorily explain ,we explain away. “is this the carpenter’s son’?”
Our text has this effect. One commentator said, “THIS STORY DOESN’T RING TRUE.” It seems so severe, we have a narrow conception of Jesus…we think we have Him all figured out, and when He acts contrary to our standards, we say it mustn’t be true.
BUT JESUS HAS A REASON.. .The context shows this was an object lesson. The FIG TREE represents Israel. The LEAVES represent the externals of religion–that which shows, the visible. The FRUIT represents the internal, the real.. .All show but no stuff. No personal righteousness.
ILLUSTRATION: The temple wasn’t really a place of meeting God, worship, prayer…
Jesus is condemning a “Nothing but Leaves” religion that is very common today. He curses it. Why?
I. A NOTHING BUT LEAVES RELIGION IS A HYPOCRITICAL RELIGION.
1. The tree professed fruit. It was a hypocrite.
The fig tree bore two crops of fruit… One before leaves, one with leaves. It was sporting leaves, so Jesus had every right to expect fruit. By its external signs it claimed to be fulfilling its God-appointed function.
Illustration: Smoke without fire, clouds without rain, sun without light…
2. The time of figs was not yet. Israel was rejecting its Messiah as their King, yet still claimed to be fulfilling its God-appointed purpose.
3. Until Jesus is reigning as Lord in your life, the time of figs is not yet.
II. A NOTHING BUT LEAVES RELIGION CONTRADICTS, DISDAINS.. ITS’ GOD INTENDED CREATED PURPOSE.
Purpose: “To bear fruit, to feed the hungry, to refresh the weary, to share its life.”
One of Jesus’ oft used examples–Luke 13, barrenness.
FRUITLESSNESS IF USELESSNESS.
1. A Reasonable Expectation–The reason God made the fig tree.
2. A Possible Expectation–Just the sharing of its’ life.. .not effort, privilege, etc.
III. A NOTHING BUT LEAVES RELIGION IS A SELFISH RELIGION.
1. Created to share.
2. Lives only for itself
3. Exists only for itself All its efforts, etc., are never for sharing life with others.
IV. A NOTHING BUT LEAVES RELIGION IS A CURSED RELIGION.
1. Its’ sin became its’ punishment. Jesus perpetuated the condition. Didn’t use the ability–lost the ability.
2. Dries up at the roots. Its’ religion may be surface and shallow, but not its’ judgment…
CURE: Faith in God and Prayer–Dependence upon God and a vital relationship with Him.
©Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2003