Summary: Family devotional for March – Open Hearts
Focus Verses: 18-19 – ‘Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.
Jesus seems to take out his anger on an innocent fig tree, which naturally prompted my son to ask, "Why would Jesus be mad at the tree?" The March family devotion was a rather challenging one to share and explain to my young kids, as it displayed a side of Jesus that we don’t often talk about with children. We know our Lord and Savior has an infinite capacity for patience and forgiveness and his love for us really knows no bounds. However in our focus verse, we catch just a brief glimpse of Jesus that shows us his frustration.
I never noticed these verses before when I had read them previously or really understood them. In our small group bible study, we were shown the context under which this event occurred and perhaps the meaning of what Jesus is trying to tell to us in these verses. In verses 12-17 preceding the focus verse, we read of Jesus’ visit to the temple in which he is greatly disturbed to find his house of prayer turned into a marketplace of “thieves”, where people have turned to making profits on those coming to worship him, instead of guiding and helping them. In frustration, he overturns tables and benches and puts a stop to the unjust activities. As he then spends time healing the blind and the lame, he has an exchange with some of the chief priests and teachers of the law who are described to be indignant to him, while they witness young innocent children praising him at the same time. To be treated with indifference and rejected in his own house of worship must have truly struck Jesus with a disappointment we cannot fathom. We then finally find Jesus in our focus verse immediately after that incident, expressing to a fig tree, “May you never bear fruit again!”. It took a little explaining to help my children understand what I had also failed to see before when reading these verses. Jesus of course isn’t really mad at the tree or just angry because he is tired and hungry, but he is greatly disappointed in how his people have closed their hearts to him and failed to bear the fruit of faith he desired from them.
In these verses, Jesus is asking us to not also close our hearts to him as well. Instead, he desires very much for us to accept him into our lives with open hearts and thus live a life bearing fruit for him. Let us therefore accept his invitation to having a closer and personal relationship with him and live a life worth living for him. May we not disappoint him in the end like the chief priests of that time and end up becoming a mere fig tree that bears no fruit and withers away.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your one and only son Jesus to us, so that he may teach us the secrets of your word and provide us guidance. Help us to not turn away from you. Help us instead to keep seeking you out in our lives and give us the courage to choose the path that you have laid before us. Fill our hearts with your love and so that we may in turn share our love with others. We pray all these things in Jesus name. Amen.