Did you hear about the preacher who walked around naked to get his point across?
It actually happened—Isaiah stripped and walked barefoot to symbolize the “stripping” of Egypt (Isa 20:1-6).
Not your typical three-point sermon, but I’d guess his audience never forgot it. Jeremiah acted out a sermon as well, retrieving a spoiled loincloth to symbolize the humiliation of Judah (Jer 13:1-11). Later he wore a yoke around his neck to represent enslavement to the king of Babylon (27:1-15; 28:10-17).
Sometimes God’s people tell stories.
And sometimes, when they really need to make a point, they act them out.
Near the end of his time on earth, Jesus decided to give his disciples a visual lesson, what some people call a “dramatized parable.”
On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it. . . . As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered” (Mark 11:12-14, 20-21).
That’s a weird story, isn’t it?
It’s the only time Jesus ever cursed anything, but why?
Because he lost his temper?
And why did he curse a fig tree for not producing figs when they were out of season?
It’s a tough passage, but the simple explanation is probably the best one: Israel—God’s people—hadn’t produced fruit and would therefore be rejected.
God had lavished blessings on them, but they had continually disobeyed him, culminating in their rejection of Jesus as their Messiah. God would now turn his face away from them as his chosen people.
The fig tree still speaks to us today, of course, though in a slightly different way.
When God blesses people, he wants them to bear fruit. He expects us to use his gifts to his glory.
How long’s it been since you counted all the ways God’s been good to you?
Some of us were raised in Christian homes and taught about Jesus from the time we entered the world.
Others came to know Christ later in life.
But regardless, we’ve been blessed to know Jesus. Millions in the world can’t even get their hands on a Bible.
Our country has some real problems, but God has put us in a land with freedoms that many people can’t even fathom.
He’s given us food to eat, clothes to wear, and warm beds to sleep in.
Family, friends, faith.
Why did God choose to bless us so much?
I really don’t know why.
But we do know this.
God likes for fig trees to produce figs, and he likes for us to use his gifts for good.
How will you produce a few figs this week?