Do you hear people speak idioms and sometimes wonder what they mean? Have you heard people use metaphors and not understand the point they were trying to make? Do you wonder why Jesus did some of the things He did?
We use a wide variety of sayings that mean something other than the words that constitute the saying. Some of them are widely spread while others are local only. Still, others may be unique to a specific group or organization. Yet, those who belong to the group or local area understand them.
We may also use metaphors to get a point across. They are often used in a teaching environment. A metaphor can be used to relate a process or procedure or a moral standard by using something familiar to the student.
Sometimes, an idiom is also a metaphor. For instance, if I were to say, “When you get bucked off a horse, you need to pick yourself up and get back on.” We understand it to mean when we fail, we must try again. It can apply to riding a bicycle, taking a test, or performing a task at work. We understand it encourages resilience, persistence, and eventual success.
In today’s passage, Jesus does something that doesn’t appear to make sense on the surface. He causes a fig tree to wither because it is not bearing fruit. Though He doesn’t explain it, we can gather its meaning by looking back at Isaiah 5 and Jeremiah 8. In both instances, the writer is prophesying what God will do in the future to Israel due to their disobedience.
How does this apply to us? If we are not bearing fruit, we will wither and die, just like the fig tree. Now, this doesn’t necessarily apply to us as individuals, though it could. However, the prophecy was for a large group. Might I suggest we can apply this metaphor to our churches, communities, and nation? Bearing good fruit for the kingdom of God is one task God has put before us. He is looking for the fruit He expects.
I pray we all seek to be productive members of God’s church. I pray we seek to contribute to His cause. I pray each one of us seek to bear good fruit for Jesus. Be productive. Produce good fruit. Seek God’s will. Know that God expects us to bear fruit.
Matthew 21:18-19 Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.