Today’s Reading: Matthew 19:3-12, 21:12-17, 28-46 and 22:1-14; Mark 10:2-12, 11:15-19, 12:1-12; Luke 19:45-48, 20:9-19
Jesus went to the fig tree looking for fruit AND THERE WAS NONE.
In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry, and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” And immediately the fig tree withered up. – Matthew 21:18-19
Jesus went to the Temple looking for fruit AND THERE WAS NONE.
Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!” – Matthew 21:12-13
Jesus considered divorce looking for fruit AND THERE WAS NONE.
“Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife?”
Jesus responded, “…’God made them male and female’ from the beginning of creation. ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” – Mark 10:2b, 6-9
What is worse – to say you will NOT bear fruit but then bear fruit, or to say that you WILL bear fruit but then NOT bear fruit?
“But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ The son answered, ‘No, I won’t go,’ but later he changed his mind and went anyway. Then the father told the other son, ‘You go,’ and he said, ‘Yes, sir, I will.’ But he didn’t go.
“Which of the two obeyed his father?” – Matthew 21:28-31a
Jesus has purchased our salvation and prepared the way for us to bear fruit. He expects us to do what he has called us to do – bear fruit. If we do not make use of this salvation and bear fruit as he intended, what will his response be?
“Now listen to another story. A certain landowner planted a vineyard, built a wall around it, dug a pit for pressing out the grape juice, and built a lookout tower. Then he leased the vineyard to tenant farmers and moved to another country. At the time of the grape harvest, he sent his servants to collect his share of the crop. But the farmers grabbed his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. So the landowner sent a larger group of his servants to collect for him, but the results were the same.
“Finally, the owner sent his son, thinking, ‘Surely they will respect my son.’
“But when the tenant farmers saw his son coming, they said to one another, ‘Here comes the heir to this estate. Come on, let’s kill him and get the estate for ourselves!’ So they grabbed him, dragged him out of the vineyard, and murdered him.
“When the owner of the vineyard returns,” Jesus asked, “what do you think he will do to those farmers?”
The religious leaders replied, “He will put the wicked men to a horrible death and lease the vineyard to others who will give him his share of the crop after each harvest.”
Then Jesus asked them, “Didn’t you ever read this in Scriptures?
‘The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.
This is the Lord’s doing, and it is wonderful to see.’
“I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that will produce the proper fruit. Anyone who stumbles over that stone will be broken to pieces, and it will crush anyone it falls on.” – Matthew 21:33-44
If we call ourselves Christians and create an appearance of being Christian, yet our lives do not produce fruit, we are wolves disguised as sheep.
“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” – Matthew 7:15-20
Producing fruit is not something I can do on my own. “Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” I have to allow God to make me into a good tree in order to produce good fruit. I go to God, just as I am, submitting who I am in order to be clothed with who He is.
“The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son…But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?’ But the man had no reply. Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
“For many are called, but few are chosen.” – Matthew 22:2,11-14
Am I wearing the “proper clothes” today? Am I clothed in the kind of real faith that produces spiritual fruit? Precious Lord, thank you for the gift of salvation and the opportunity to work in your vineyard today. Empty me of my own selfish tendencies, fill me with your Spirit and work through me to produce fruit for you today. Amen.