SERIES! The Fig Tree, Part 1: God is Intentional
“The next morning as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. He noticed a fig tree in full leaf a little way off, so he went over to see if he could find any figs. But there were only leaves because it was too early in the season for fruit. Then Jesus said to the tree, “May no one ever eat your fruit again!” And the disciples heard him say it.” (Mark 11: 12-14, NLT)
So let me give you the short version of what my life has been for the past 7 months: I’ve planned two weddings, and I still need to plan one more. The first wedding was the one that never happened; at a catering hall that essentially took our money and never provided a wedding due to COVID-19. Then there’s the wedding that did take place: a beautiful and intimate ceremony under a tree at the top of a hill that felt like another planet altogether,
surrounded by family– followed by an awesome backyard reception that was more perfect than any catering hall could have attempted to create.
And then there’s the wedding that’s yet to happen: the wedding my husband and I have promised to our friends and family that couldn’t come to celebrate with us. That is somewhere on the horizon and is sure to be another wonderful day.
My point? I have planned 3 weddings over the course of 7 months, and on paper, two seem frivolous and meaningless: one a disappointment and the other in excess. Both seem a waste. For me, that seems to preach many different ways, but here’s one angle for you– God doesn’t waste a thing. He is intentional about everything. He uses it all, from disappointments, to victories, and even those things we dream on the horizon.
Our key verse was always a head-scratcher for me. As a teen, I always thought it was a throw-away passage in the Bible; something that wasn’t necessarily a teaching moment, but it just showed how cool Jesus was so it made it in. Lately, I’ve been taking the time to comb through the gospel of Mark, and I’m starting to realize more and more that there are no throw-away passages in the Bible. Everything– and I mean everything– has purpose. Every proverb, every genealogy, every single word that Jesus ever said or did; it is all intentional.
Duh, Cortney. You’re stating the obvious. And if I am, then great, you get it, but I feel like we’re constantly becoming numb to the Word of God. We’re always forgetting that it’s not an accident that some parts are there and others are not. There are whole books out there that are highly controversial because they’re not seen as canonically accepted scripture. But there’s a reason for that. It’s that God, in all His knowledge and absolute passion for us, gave a handful of men the spiritual discernment to put together His Word.
But how does that apply to our key verse? Why is that such a big deal when it comes to these five sentences? I think we may take a few weeks to dig deep into it, because I’ve found too much to pack into one week. For today, here’s a little taste: At this moment in the Bible, Jesus is just days away from the cross. He’s just entered the city of Jerusalem on a donkey to singing and rejoicing and celebration. He knows where He is and He knows where He will end up before the week is out. He knows that there are only a few precious moments left before everything changes forever.
To me, the closest thing I can compare it to is how I felt the week before my wedding: there was so much to do, so many people to see, last minute things to check off– all before an extremely life-altering event. And on top of that, there are only a very few of these last moments before the cross recorded in the Bible, so the ones we do have; they all carry weight. They are all intentional.
Even at this moment, where it seems that Jesus is just hangry. He notices a fig tree, but upon walking up to the tree, he notices that the tree has no fruit and curses the tree so that it will never bear fruit again. From our carnal viewpoint, we might identify with Jesus. He was hungry, He saw an opportunity for some tasty figs, but the tree faked Him out. That sucks. That’s infuriating. Of course we can understand His frustration to the point of cursing the tree as God in human form. I’m sure that given the same position and power, some of us would have gone way more overboard than that.
But Jesus’ frustration is not simply carnal. It’s not a temporary whim caught up in the heat of the moment. His anger towards the fig tree goes deeper than not providing Him a snack. And that’s all I want you to focus on today: that when it comes to scripture, there is always something deeper than what our first reaction is. There is always something more intentional with a more eternal meaning. There is always a lesson. There is always a reason.
So for me, I might not see the whole picture now, and I might not know the direction that the Lord is going in full with my three weddings, but I’m starting to see some of the picture.
My first wedding: a disappointment. Something that will never happen. Something my husband and I saved for and worked towards and prepared for for six out of the seven months we were engaged. Something that we have yet to see a penny for as far as a refund goes. But still, a lesson. Still intentional.
It teaches me that no matter how much I dream, plan, and strive, my plan will always pale in comparison next to what the Lord always had for me. My perfect, catering hall wedding became a headache, and then a nightmare, and then a heartbreak. I can’t tell you how many times I sobbed over what I thought was a dream lost. If only I could have seen the beautiful, intimate, and heaven-on-earth wedding I got. All planned in 30 days, a day that I will hold next to my heart as proof of the amazing and overabundant blessings of God– of His plan to give me a hope and a future that I could never build for myself.
And the third wedding? The one that’s going to happen in the future? I don’t know fully what the Lord is saying through that one, but I’ll be sure to let you know once I figure it out. All that to say: God is intentional. He’s not some distant guy that laughs at the strange twists and turns in our lives. He has your every tomorrow already written out, and every day serves a purpose. Everyday is intentional. Not one is a throw-away.