What on Earth

Matthew 21:18-22


Jesus Curses the Fig Tree

18 In the morning, when he returned to the city, he was hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the side of the road, he went to it and found nothing at all on it but leaves. Then he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once. 20 When the disciples saw it, they were amazed, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” 21 Jesus answered them, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only will you do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will be done. 22 Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.”
So why did Jesus curse the fig tree? We might ask what the owner of the fig tree thought of Jesus’ actions, but we will save that for another time!
If we look at passages in the Gospels of Mark and Luke, Jesus offers a parable about the fig tree, that if after three years of not bearing fruit, then tear it down. In this lesson, Jesus is more proactive.
A fig tree needs three years for it to mature and bear fruit. It needs to be nurtured and properly fertilized. But if all that work is done and no fruit comes forth, cut it down.
The fig tree is not cut down because it bears bad fruit, it is cut down because it produces nothing.
The Alpha Discipleship Series leader Nicky Gumbel tells the story of the au pair who watched his children. She was not all that fluent in her English and sometimes got phrases mixed up. One day she found the kids had made a mess in their room, and she scolded them, saying, “What are you doing on earth?” instead of, “What on earth are you doing?”
It’s a good question, isn’t it? What on earth are you doing?
What has God created you to do and to be?
The question we might ask about life and death is not, “Why does God allow people to die?” but rather, “Why has God given you life?”
An answer we find in scripture is Micah 6:8. What is good and what the Lord requires of you:
  • Act Justly
  • Love Mercy
  • Walk Humbly
Our job is to walk with God, who has faced the tragedies for us, and promises we will never face it alone.
For Jesus is obedient, even to death on another tree, for you and for me.
Let us pray: 
Almighty God, we give thanks for your son, obedient and willing to endure the cross for us. Because of his death and resurrection, you set us free to live as you have created us to live. Guide us in your ways. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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