"The next day, when they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree that had leaves, went to see if there was any fruit. When he came to it he only found leaves, because it was not time for figs. Let no one ever eat fruit of you! He said to the fig tree. And his disciples heard it. "Mr. 11: 12-14
This is a passage difficult to interpret in the Gospels. Alessandro Pronzato refers to the fact that it is a fig tree that has no more sin than respecting its seasons. We could define it as a plant guilty of scrupulously observing the regulation: "It was not time for figs"
This episode represents a dramatized parable. They are the pretensions of God in relation to us. Christ asks us for something more. As if to say: Faith has the obligation to perform miracles.
We can be involved in many activities but we may have nothing but leaves.
I can pretend that I am a leafy tree full of leaves but what Jesus is looking for is fruit. God expects his people to bear fruit in time and out of time as Paul expressed it to Timothy: "Preach the word; persists in doing so, whether or not it is opportune; correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience, without ceasing to teach ", 2 Timothy 4: 2. God considers us capable of doing impossible things. Christ has not only died on the cross so that I may have eternal life, but also so that he may be similar to Him in performing his own works.
Do I consider God's invitation in amparo of the unreached needs of the less evangelized and be his instrument? What objections do I have to respond to this invitation? What is the fruit that the Lord seeks in the midst of his church?
Israel's problem was that it seemed life but its beautiful leaves hid a tremendous emptiness. We must examine ourselves and be careful that the same does not happen in our environment. The people who came to this fig tree did not find something that satisfied their thirst and hunger.
Jesus taught them with these words: Is it not written: "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations"? Mr. 11:17. It refers to an inclusive kingdom that God wants to establish. His concern has to do with all nations, for all peoples, on behalf of all peoples. Jesus does not keep his nationalist limits but transcends them.
We must take care not to be centered in ourselves in amparo of the institution, forgetting the ethnic groups that are not reached with the Gospel. It is expected that as individuals and churches we begin an intentional process to reach those who are dispossessed of the gospel. The Lord is calling other ethnic groups to be his people too. Invite your Church to participate. How are we responding as a Church? What intentional processes are we beginning to achieve?
Finally Mark shares: "In the morning, when they passed by the fig tree, they saw that it had dried up by the roots …" Mr. 11: 20-25
The fact that the fig tree was dried by root means that the destruction was total and that no one in the future would eat of this tree. La Higuera is symbolizing the religious system of the time with its political components. This served as a warning of the judgment that would come in 70 AD when the Romans entered Jerusalem and destroyed the temple. It is the destiny of that system and authorities. It will not leave unpunished an excluding religious system, of pressure, abuse, control, robbery and that has not given freedom to man but has subjected him to a legalism that has enslaved him.
"Peter, remembering, said to Jesus: Rabbi, look, the fig tree that you cursed has dried up!"
Jesus' response is "Have faith in God." Jesus appeals to the quality of Faith and Prayer. God has not left man alone and challenges us to insist on having Faith in God. He tells them: "I assure you that if anyone says to this mountain, 'Get out of there and throw yourself into the sea,' believing, without any doubt of what he says will happen, he will get it. That is why I say to you: Believe that you have received everything you are asking for in prayer and you will obtain it ". To remove from here to there or to move seems to be a proverbial phrase that means to remove great difficulties, 1 Corinthians 13.2. It implies that a value system that does not give freedom to man disappears.
The problems are finally focused on the sterility of the fig tree, the lack of fruit, the exclusive structure of the temple or institution. The antidote will be Faith, asking through prayer, appealing to its power that includes love to enemies and forgiving others. We are called to follow Jesus and overcome obstacles.
Today we Christians have to pray creatively that God will remove the great obstacles
that present themselves in world evangelization. We must ask ourselves and reflect: How is the Church? Why should we pray? What are the big obstacles?
Let's continue forward making an extra effort: "on time and out of time". Pray believing that God will remove the great obstacles to world evangelization.
Author: Carlos Scott
Carlos is a member of the executive committee and total leadership council of the Missions Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), Resides in Buenos Aires.
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