When evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city. In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!” Mark 11, verses 19 – 21.
Remember this story from a few days ago? Now as then, words mean things. Tell me: do you believe it when someone says them to you?
Jesus told a fig tree to wither and it did; the proof was evident when the disciples saw the withered tree. Churchill told Parliament and anyone else who would listen that Hitler was a danger to Europe; remember World War II? Ever hear about the myriad of problems facing the US Government today?
What do you believe when someone says “repent and turn to Jesus” or “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me?”
When we visited the first part of the story – Jesus telling the tree to wither – we talked about meaning what we say. I believe most people do mean what they say, or at least most people want to. We want honesty; we demand or ask it of others. Accordingly, we should mean what we say so that what we say is both honest and forthright. We should mean what we say whether it is expressing our faith, telling a tree to wither, discussing work, playing with our kids, or anything else. God takes us at our word: we should mean it.
But if we each mean what we say, then it follows that ‘the other guy’ (in our conversations) means what he says as well. What should our reaction be to that? Do you believe it? Do you take people at face value (like God does with you) or are you skeptical? Do you parse words from meanings or intentions? Are you (like me) someone who hears but doesn’t always listen well? If this is how we perceive – and treat – the words of others, what does this say about how we perceive and treat Jesus?
Jesus told the tree to wither. The Disciples who heard Him say it were either baffled or didn’t pay attention to the words. Yet the next day the tree had withered and the Disciples believed that Jesus had meant what He said. They believed after seeing the sign.
Do you or I need a sign?
Not only, but the Disciples saw the withered tree withered FROM THE ROOTS. It was 100% dead from the inside out and from the bottom up. Have you ever considered that, when we don’t mean what we say and when we don’t believe others and trust their words, Jesus considers us to be withered from the bottom up? Jesus asks us, expects us, to believe what He said, and to act on what He said in our lives. Do you think He considers us to be withered wood when we don’t? Should we be shocked when our sins have consequences? Should we be surprised if our hearts and minds are unrepentant and then, at the end of all things, Jesus calls us to task for it?
Are you a dead tree? Am I?
Believe it, my friend. He means what He says. Thanks be to Jesus for His forgiveness.
Lord I believe Your words. Teach me to better listen to others, to You, and to let my actions then follow in belief.
Read Mark 11, verses 12-25.