In Matthew 21, Jesus approaches a fig tree full of leaves. But as he gets close, he finds no fruit. He curses the tree, causing it to wither. It wasn’t arbitrary or mean—it was a word for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.
Bearing godly fruit is the function of godly people, just as producing figs is the function of a fig tree. We can live our lives and have all the appearance of health, but if we don’t produce fruit, we aren’t good for much.
What each of us needs to stay focused on is that Jesus has come to put the “fruitful” back in our producing. We’re able to produce fruit with him as our soil, rain, and sun. If we remain in him—our roots immersed in his soil; our veins full of his water; our leaves consuming his light—we will be just fine. But apart from him we feel the effects of malnutrition. And then, death sets in. Our roots find no nutrients in foreign soil; our veins run dry from a lack of water; our leaves stiffen and crumble without proper light. As God’s creatures, we need God’s provisions, therefore without him we are on our own, left to devices that beat down upon us and wither our lives.
Jesus’ version of this is short and sweet, from John 15,
5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
Jesus’ willingness to suffer so that we don’t have to isn’t a cheap gift. If anything, it’s extremely expensive. But with a love that’s too hard to explain, God offers that gift of life for free, not because it was easy but because we were worth the hardship. Says a lot, doesn’t it?
How do you avoid withering? Stay in Jesus. He’ll stick with you, you just gotta stick with him. Relationships are hard, yes, but always worth it, especially when the One you are in relationship with is as giving and gracious as Jesus Christ.
May it be so, O Lord.