Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?” So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” – Matthew 21:18-22 NKJV.
Fruit trees are expected to eventually bear fruit. The age of trees before they actually do bear fruit varies. Apricot, peach, plum, and cherry trees usually begin to bear fruit at three years from planting. Pear trees take even longer to bear fruit with it sometimes taking six or seven years before they will bear fruit. Apple trees can take even longer, taking as much as ten years before one of those trees will produce fruit. (umaine.edu – cooperative extension)
Just as, fruit trees are expected to eventually bear fruit, so are Christians. Maybe this is one of the lessons we learn from Jesus and the fig tree. It seems to be a strange scene, Jesus apparently is hungry, but when He finds a fig tree He finds no figs. Jesus responds by supernaturally zapping the tree and it instantly withers away. If nothing else, it should be a warning to all fruitless Christians that God expects you to bear fruit, and it appears that there may be consequences if you do not bear fruit.
Why do fruit trees fail to bear fruit? Again from the helpful University of Maine website I found that there are four general reasons for failure to bear fruit. Trees may fail to form flowers, there may be flower bud death from cold injury or frost, lack of pollination, and insect damage to fruits. We can relate this to why Christians sometimes fail to bear fruit.
First, the failure to form flowers. Why does this happen to fruit trees? It can happen from a lack of the proper nourishment. Trees need fertile soul and some water. Christians fail to form flowers for the same reason through a failure to maintain proper nourishment. The nourishment that Christians need comes from the Word of God. As Jesus says in Matthew 4:4 NKJV, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'”
Second, bud death from cold or frost. In trees, it simply happens when the bud freezes, or becomes cold enough to cause damage. A similar thing can happen to baby Christians. An older Christian, or someone that has been a Christian longer can have a damaging impact upon a new Christian. Discouragement can happen any many ways. One of the most frequent is hearing Christians being hypercritical of others. A fruitless, heartless, mean-spirited person that presents themselves as being a faithful Christian can cause immense damage to the young children of God.
Third, lack of pollination. There has to be interaction between the trees with the spread of pollen between them. It occurs through the wind, bees, and birds. For Christians to grow we need to have interaction with other Christians. That is why the Bible tells us in Hebrews 10:24-25 NKJV, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Fourth, insect damage to the fruit. Insects can wipe out a fruit crop; wrecking immense damage. False teachers can do the same to young Christians. In 2 Peter 2:1-2 NKJV we are told, “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.”
Are you bearing fruit in your life? If not, check for how the fruit in your life may have been damaged. Then begin to make repairs by giving yourself what you need to produce fruit, and protect yourself from what will damage the fruit in your life.
(Christians like trees are expected to eventually bear fruit.)