ReadMatthew 21:18-22, Mark 11:12-14
Imitations have gotten better and better over time. It’s nearly impossible to tell the difference between the artificial succulents and live plants on a co-worker’s desk. We need to be cautious in a friend’s kitchen because those beautiful apples on the counter may be for decor purposes only.
We’ve all experienced a moment when we realized things are not as they seem. In Matthew 21, Jesus sees a fig tree full of beautiful leaves, a sign that it should be bearing fruit. But when He gets closer there’s no fruit. The tree had all the outward signs of fruitfulness, but nothing below the foliage. Jesus cursed the tree, and it withered.
Like the fig tree, many Israelites had all the outward signs of a relationship with God but no spiritual fruit. They were more worried about what the Roman officials thought of them than what God did. Accepting Jesus as God could create problems between themselves and the Roman government.
Rome demanded its citizens and subjects worship Caesar as a god. To accept Jesus as God would be an act of defiance. It would be easier to avoid conflict, ridicule, and even persecution by not outwardly accepting Jesus. Following Jesus would be difficult and uncomfortable.
That’s how it is today, too. Following Jesus comes at a cost. It isn’t always popular nor easy. Jesus teaches us that with unshakable faith and fervent prayer, all things are possible (Matthew 21:21-22). Jesus wants us to have real, fruit-bearing faith in Him, not to simply go through the motions.
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