Bearing fruit

IN some sheltered spot by the roadside a fig tree attracted the attention of Jesus, as it must have drawn the wondering eyes of many travellers on their way to the Passover. At that time of the year fig trees were normally without either fruit or leaves. The sight suited his purpose well for it presented him with the opportunity of giving a practical illustration of the parable of the barren fig tree, and of completing a picture which had been left in abeyance. The time of figs was not yet; they appeared before the leaves. Here was a fig tree which made great boast of itself, challenging those who passed by to behold from the richness of its foliage, the succulence of its fruit. Yet, accepting the invitation, the hungry wayfarer was doomed to disappointment, for in spite of its lofty pretensions this tree was no better than the other trees. Its fault lay not so much in its barrenness as in its empty promises. No more penetrating picture of Israel can be imagined than that afforded by this sheltered tree with its abundance of green leaves stirring gently in the morning air. Nor can we confine the picture to natural Israel. It must ever be a challenge to Israel after the spirit also. The richness of the promise must be supported by the abundance of the fruit.

MELVA PURKIS, A Life of Jesus, page 298.