Nothing but Leaves

by Franklin L. Kirksey

One of the most unusual stories in the New Testament is that of the cursing of the fig found in Mark 11:12-33. It seems, on first reading, so out or character for our Lord to curse a fig tree for the simple reason given in verse 13, "he found nothing but leaves."

First, we read in verse 12, "He was hungry." This demonstrates His humanity and implies His humility. We must remember that Jesus is fully man as well as fully God. He is the "God-Man."

He expected fruit, particularly figs. Nothing satisfies hunger like a ripe fig picked straight from the tree. Matthew 21:19 reminds us that this tree was beside the road, which implies it was public property.

What did Jesus find? "He found nothing but leaves." (v. 13). It is breathtaking to see the foliage in the fall, but these leaves were green, not golden brown. The late evangelist Ron Dunn shares, "The fig tree bore two crops of fruit: One before the leaves, one with leaves. This tree was sporting leaves, so Jesus had every right to expect fruit. By its external signs it claimed to be fulfilling its God-given function."

Verse 14 records Jesus' curse upon this fruitless fig tree: "[He] said to it, Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.'"

After this drastic action against the tree, we read in verses 15 through 19 that Jesus then drove the merchandisers and moneychangers out of the Temple-also known as "the House of Prayer." Sadly, commerce had crowded out communion and communication with God and these Israelites had become unfruitful, like the fig tree. In verses 27-33 we discover that many "religious" leaders questioned Jesus' authority to do such a thing. But Jesus stood firm in His resolve to please His Father.

Finally, in verses 20-26, Jesus explained the meaning of his actions, teaching about faith (22-24) and forgiveness (25-26). Both faith and forgiveness are absolutely necessary for us to have a fruitful Christian life.

Lucy E. Akerman* has written: "Nothing but leaves! The Spirit grieves o'er years of wasted life; o'er sins indulged while conscience slept, o'er vows and promises unkept, And reaps, from years of strife-nothing but leaves! Nothing but leaves!"

May it never be said of us: "nothing but leaves"!

Dr. Kirksey pastors

Tibbie Baptist Church in

Tibbie, Alabama 36583

*Lucy Akerman (1816-1874) wrote the lyrics for the hymn, "Nothing but Leaves," which was often sung with excellent effect in the early Moody-Sankey meetings. Her poem appeared in the New York Christian Observer 1858.

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