Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2016
Texts: Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:1–46; Romans 4:13–16; Revelation 14:7–12; Acts 6:7; Matthew 22:1–15
Have you ever planted a fruit tree that didn’t bloom or bear fruit? It can be quite discouraging, especially if it’s full of healthy leaves. You might be tempted to chop it down. Before you grab your axe, consider a few facts on why fruit trees don’t bloom or bear. Here are some of the basic needs of a fruit tree.
If your tree is too young, it won’t produce fruit. If you purchase a fruit tree from an orchard, they are typically two years old and will still need a couple years before they will bear fruit. You also need to consider the hardiness zone in which you live. You may have planted a tree that is not able to withstand the climate in your area.
All fruit trees require pollination. Some are self-pollinating and others need a compatible tree pollinator planted nearby. There also needs to be some assistance from bees, birds, and the wind. You should also not plant your trees too close together. Trees need space for nutrients and light.
Trees that are regularly pruned will more likely produce quality fruit. Limbs that have lots of air circulation and light will have more fruiting buds. And finally, fruit trees need a good balance of nutrients in the soil. There needs to be adequate minerals and an appropriate amount of water. Yet, even when all these measures are followed, there are times when a tree needs to be retired.1
Jesus once came across a fruit tree that had no fruit. We don’t know why this particular fig tree was not bearing, but when Christ looked for something to eat on it, the tree was full of leaves but barren of fruit. Notice what Jesus said: “Let no fruit grow on you ever again” (Matthew 21:19). What a strange remark! Even more bizarre is what happened next. “Immediately the fig tree withered away.”
Didn’t Christ understand the principles of growing fruit trees? Was Jesus a poor orchardist? There was something more than impatience in the Savior’s cursing of this fig tree. In our Sabbath school lesson this week we are studying the last week of Jesus’ time in Jerusalem. It was a period of a desperate call to the Israelites to acknowledge their hopeless condition and turn to God.
But while some people accepted Jesus as the Messiah, most of the nation and its leaders had rejected God’s Son and passed the point of no return. The Lord had sent many messages to save the “tree” of Israel, but, like the fig tree, it would never produce fruit for God’s glory.
The parable of the fig tree, along with the other events that took place during Jesus’ last week in Jerusalem, should awaken in our own hearts a desire to bear fruit. Are you growing in preparation for Christ’s soon return?
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