Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Final Week of Jesus - Grumpy Fruit Inspector or...?

In the Gospel of Mark the story of the cleansing of the Temple is framed by a curious incident involving a fig tree.

On Tuesday before Passover, Jesus got hungry and saw a healthy looking fig tree at a distance, but when He searched for fruit He found none. He said something along the lines, I am through with you. Went to the temple. Created an uproar. Went back to Bethany.  The next day they walked by the tree and found it withered from the roots up.

What is going on here?!!! Was Jesus...just grumpy... the way I get grumpy when I am hungry?!! Or was there something more than meets the eye (and the stomach) here?

Doubtlessly, fruit-bearing is a non-negotiable in the Kingdom of God.

You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. John 15:16

Abide in Me and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.  John 15:4-5

The Law, the Temple, the sacrificial system clearly failed to produce the kind of heart change necessary for us to have a relationship with God. In reality, these were never intended to make us right with God but rather to expose our desperate need for Him. For, the only way to produce fruit is by sticking with God as He sticks with you and me.  We can't do it on our own. It is His Spirit and His Spirit only who produces His fruit in our lives Galatians 5:22-23

We can’t manufacture it.  

We can’t fake it.  

We can’t force it.  

We can't demand it.

We can’t even time it! 

For those of us accustomed to purchasing hydroponic GMO produce wrapped in plastic, stored in supermarket coolers or on shelves ready for us on demand, this might be a difficult concept to grasp (it is also a topic for another blog entry!). But any organic gardener knows it very well! Just as in a garden the fruit is a miraculous result of intrinsic life of the plant rooted deeply in the soil, so fruit-bearing in a disciple of Jesus is a result of intrinsic Christ-life miraculously manifesting Himself through our body-life. 

By His death and resurrection, Jesus abolished the old and inaugurated a new, living way of drawing near to God.  The old system of sacrifices and ordinances, works and brownie points has become obsolete. It has withered from the root up to make room for the new, glorious reality of God-with-us and now, God-in-us

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