Matthew 21:18-22 Fruit Inspection

 

1)   God became a Man

While He was returning to the city He became hungry

This speaks to Jesus physical restrictions which were the same as ours. This is one of the core beliefs of Christianity that God came to Us as a man.

John 3:16 -18 For God so loved the world,[i] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Isaiah 7:14-15 Immanuel God with Us

It is one of the defining aspects of our God and the difference between Christianity’s God and all other religions  All other gods are about you finding them but our God has always been about finding us. Adam and Eve where are you? (Genesis 3:9)

Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Jesus dealt with what we deal with and so He understands us when we pray to Him. He is not a God removed from our problems and pain but one who walked in our shoes.

2)   Jesus taught that He expects results

He went up to it and found nothing on it but leaves

This was not the normal time for the fig tree to be blooming but if it had leaves on it then it should have had fruit. (Mark 11:13) These trees would grow 10-30 feet in height and width making them great shade trees. There was a budding fruit that would appear before the leaves and then the main fruit after the leaves. Jesus being hungry could see the fig tree and heading to it for nourishment would have been very disappointed along His journey.

This tree was not functioning like it was supposed to.

When people call themselves Christians and do not live like one, it creates problems.False religions can look good but actually be a hindrance to people finding God. This was the problem with the religious leaders of the day because they actually made it harder for people to find God because of all their religious regulations.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

The extreme danger to our society is not the outright ungodliness but the things that appear to be from God but are not.

In fact Paul says to avoid people that appear righteous but are not. Why? Because fake Christians are worse for the Kingdom of God than not being a Christian. If you are not going to live for Christ then tell people you are an Atheist.

If Jesus were to walk up and inspect your life what would He find?

You can sing about Jesus, preach about Jesus and fake it really well, but that does not mean you are producing fruit.

3)   Jesus taught how there will be a Day of Judgment

May fruit never come from you again, and the tree withered at once

It was the next day when the tree was seen by the disciples but it was still an amazing miracle that took place. A tree normally dies slowly but the next day they saw the tree and were amazed it died so quickly. It was better for the tree to die than to continue to fool people who would have been looking to it for nourishment. We think of death as a bad thing but the best thing that could happen is for that plant to die.

The best thing to happen to a Christian is to be Hot or Cold (Revelation 3:15)

The rebuking of the tree not only showed the power of Jesus but it also demonstrates that Jesus will one day call all of us into account of our lives.

Romans 14:12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

The Old Testament uses a fig tree as a symbol of Israel (Isaiah 28:4; Hosea 9:10) and a barren fig tree symbolizes sin and corruption in the nation (Jeremiah 8:13; 24:8; 29:17; Hosea 9:10; Joel 1:12; Micah 7:1).

John 15:5  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

If you are not bearing fruit as a Christian then there is a problem in your life. Fruit is a manifestation of true salvation and shows if you truly belong to Christ or not. The problem with religious activity is that it can seem to be producing fruit but if it is not nourishment for others then it is no good. It is plastic fruit on a table that looks good but offers no value whatsoever.

Fruit is to be plucked and eaten. Christianity is always about giving yourself away.  If you are plugged into Jesus then you should be seeing some fruit coming from your lives and by fruit we mean the same attributes that Jesus demonstrated.  Yes we have seasons for fruit bearing, some for hibernation and some for pruning but you should see fruit coming from your life as some point.

A fig tree would usually produce fruit two times a year and would grow from 10-30 feet tall providing shade for the summer months. It served more than one purpose and a chopped down tree would provide wood for cooking.

Luke 13:6-9 And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”

There is still grace right now for people to turn from their ways but if they don’t then the Bible promises they will be cursed for eternity. This is one of the difficult truths for people to understand about Christianity because they always think a God of Love would never cast people away. The truth is that because God is Holy and perfect He has no choice but to keep imperfection out of His Heaven. What He offers through Jesus Christ sacrifice is an opportunity for us to have a clean start where we are looked upon as totally perfect. (Colossians 3)

It was not bearing fruit and it was taking up space where another tree could be planted and produce fruit so the manager said cut it down.  If there is no fruit in your life then you better be careful to think that you are a Christian. If there is no fruit in your life then you need to figure out why.

Are you helping or hurting your spiritual productivity?

No one wants to talk about the Disciplines of the Faith anymore but the reality is we will not see as much or any fruit if we do not feed ourselves with the right material. Just like a gardener needs to add things to their crop so Christians are encouraged to add things to their lives to help them grow. Daily Bible reading, Prayer, Scripture memory, and meeting with other believers is all part of the spiritual disciplines to help us in our growth.

Hebrews 12:11  For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

A tree with dead branches on it would be better to have those branches cut off so they do not drain the tree from producing fruit. We have things in our lives that need to be cut off or they will drain us from becoming what Christ is calling us to become.

Although no one likes to be held accountable we need to be fruit inspectors and see if we can spot any problems before they kill the whole tree. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) and many lives, marriages, careers have been killed by sin going unchecked and destroying the person.

Jesus did not judge a person by their church attendance, if they walked an aisle or even if they were baptized. He judged them by what their life was producing.

That one day God will judge non-Christians is an ongoing theme in Scripture. (Isaiah 24:17-23; 30:27-33; Ezekiel 38-39; John 5:29; Acts 17:31 )

Christians will be judged for what they did in Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:8; Revelation 11:18; 22:12) and not for if they were good enough on their own.

4)   Jesus retaught how we must pray

I tell you the truth if you have faith and do not doubt

Jesus wants the disciples to know how to pray and He keeps reemphasizing it. Jesus is sharing with them how they can have the same authority as Him the authority He gave them in Matthew 10.

This is not a magical formula for getting what you want but an assurance that you are doing the will of God.

Doubt means to not have a divided mind. Doubt means you only trust God part way, and you are centered more on self than God.  People say they trust God but then they act as if He does not exist. They pray to God but then they handle things on their own.  We say one thing and then we act as if God has forgotten us. Our job is to pray and be involved in what God is already doing.

To be a Christian means you trust God to handle what He promises you He will handle.

This does not mean you do not do what you are called to do but at the same time you trust God for the results and supplies. Nehemiah built the wall around Jerusalem but it took an act of God for Him to have the supplies he needed.

“Faith in God includes Faith in His timing” Neal A. Maxwell

We have to be careful to not do the things God said He would do because Saul did not wait on the priest and the Kingdom was taken away from Him. Waiting on God is trusting in Him. His timing is perfect.  In this world where people are about “Making it Happen” trust in God has become difficult.

One of the mistakes many Christians make is to not wait on God and make things happen on their own. Yes there are times you have to go and He provides and other times He provides and you go.

Joshua 3 says that the priest had to step into the Jordan river before it divided.

Exodus 14 tells us as the people moved forward God divided the red sea.

He is never late and He has a plan. (Crossing the red sea)

Say to the mountain, be taken up and thrown into the sea

This was a famous saying about the size of the obstacle seeming impossible. So When Jesus said you can throw this mountain into the sea it meant with God nothing is impossible.

And in everything, whatever you ask in Prayer, believing, you will receive.

We do not control God as some of the false teachers on television have said. I have literally heard a preacher say God cannot move until you “will Him to move by Faith.”

John 14:12-14 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me[e] anything in my name, I will do it.

See also James 4:3 and 1 John 5:14

Saying the name Jesus is not the magical formula to get God to do things either. Those who abuse Gods promise by saying that He has to do it because you asked for it are twisting the scripture to say what they want it to say. Of course, they say  if God does not answer your prayer it is because you do not have enough faith. Trusting in God when things do not go your way requires more faith so to say that you do not have enough faith for the situation you are praying for is a lie.

If we are to say that prayers go unanswered because of lack of faith then we have to say that Jesus lacked faith in the garden when He asked God to remove this cup from Him. (Matthew 26:39)  To say unanswered prayers are from a lack of faith means that the Apostle Paul did not have enough faith when He asked for healing. (2 Corinthians 12:6-8)

Gods purposes are bigger than our purposes and although they do not make sense to us at the time they will in eternity.  There have been many prayers that have gone unanswered that only later do we understand them.

Our job is to say  like Jesus “Not my will but yours”

Even when we pray we should say but if I am asking anything that is not of you then please guide me. Our job is to trust God even when it does not make sense because He is still in control even when it looks like evil is winning.

We are to pray persistently while trusting in Gods sovereignty (Luke 11:9; 18:1-8)

Our prayers get answered when they honor God.

The person who prays for what God wants will have their prayer answered. This is why we pray in Jesus name. Some have taken this to mean that we do not need to bother with praying because Gods will is going to be done anyway so we just need to trust Him through whatever we are going through.

Yes we are to trust God for whatever we are going through but we have also been asked to pray repeatedly for our situations  to change. (Matthew 7:7-8) Just like all the other paradoxes in the Bible we have to trust that God calls us to pray and trust at the same time. He can change our circumstances through our prayers but He also knows best for us and for others. Remember Christianity is not about you and getting what you want. Jesus Christ did not die for Himself but for us.

I would rather get to Heaven and know I prayed too much rather than not enough.

Instead of praying for health and wealth  why don’t we pray for the Fruit of the Spirit

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

You can claim anyone of those attributes in Jesus name and know that He will answer them because they are His will.

 

 

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