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Wazzup up with that fig tree

July 8, 2014

Could Jesus be that upset? To blame a tree for not holding out fruit to Him when He wants it, when He walks up to it? And then curse it and make it wither instantly? And to make it an object lesson to others how not to be? And last of all to teach from it that faith was nothing short of a magic wand? That with it one could merely talk to a mountain: Go, throw yourself into the sea and have it done like He made the fig tree wither instantly, at one’s whim? It all sounds so arbitrary.

But I think Jesus was using a moment clearly to his advantage. I suspect a tree meant to be giving its fruit in season but not, was quite likely headed to the hearth. Here was a stark metaphor of deception. Its leaves an indication there is fruit, but in reality none. A promising invite but hollow in substance. His emotion brimmed quite naturally. Unusually here was One whose words had divine power and the tree withered. An unmistakable lesson on the consequences of hypocrisy.

Taking off from here, Jesus uses the next moment and illustrates the power of believing prayer. Like the simple prayers of the prophets of old. No slashing of wrists, wild dancing or some invocation to make the divine Spirit act. Only the utterance of a simple prayer with absolute confidence it will be heard. And the lessons stuck on.

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