I am thinking this week about the events of “palm Sunday” as recorded in Matthew 21. What stands out in my mind is the strange incident of Jesus cursing a tree. It is strange because why would Jesus get mad at a poor little tree?
So the first circle is to think about that tree and see that it is not about a tree, but it is a symbol. It did not have fruit and for that was cursed. So Jesus came to the center of the nation of the people of Abraham, of those called to be a great nation and a blessing to the world, and he looked there for fruit.
Circling around again, we see that there was a lot of apparent fruit at the arrival – a parade and shouts of hosanna. Yet we know from Holy Week activities that Palm Sunday is followed in 5 days by Good Friday. Jesus went from being a Popular Hero to Condemned and Abandoned faster than could be imagined.
There are those who come in faith and are welcomed by Jesus and there are those who are angry and reject Jesus.
Jesus circles past the temple, the place that is a living enactment of his ministry – a place for worship where one gets close to God via the priesthood and the sacrifices given there. Jesus is proclaimed as the sacrifice and the High Priest what brings God close to us in his incarnation and us close to God by paying the ransom that was required to make peace with God.
He sees it and turns it over as a place that has missed it’s calling. There is a lot of business and there are many people. It is like one of those churches that has become adept at putting Bottoms in the pews and Bucks in the offering. Yet, it had missed its purpose – to be a house of prayer. This overturning of the temple is another circle.
So the fig tree exists to produce fruit. The Temple existed to produce prayer. when they failed in their mission they were judged.
What is it then, as we come full circle, What is it that the Lord looks for in us? what is the fruit we are to produce?
Circling back in Matthew there is John’s call to repent and produce fruit in chapter 3. Jesus twice spoke of good and bad trees that either produce good or bad fruit – chapter 7 and 12. The parable of the sower is about how the seed and produce fruit that multiplies to up to 100 fold.
Is this fruit numerical? we should see hundreds not a few followers? Is the fruit spiritual – we think of the fruit of the spirit mentioned in Galatians. Is it as simple as faith and love, which are the two evidences of faith that Paul cites at the start of his various letters to the churches.
Like the icon on my computer which indicates a process and a search ongoing, I am circling around this question of fruit.