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Saturday, April 8, 2017

A Lenten Healing: 40 Graces for Forgiveness (Day 34: The Cursed Fig Tree)

Jesus was hungry. He saw a leafy fig tree in the distance. He went to get himself a nosh, but the tree had no fruit on it. So he cursed it, that it would never produce again.
Yikes. I have hanger issues myself, but that’s taking it to a whole ’nother level, Jesus.
The Bible doesn’t waste any words—there are no throwaway narratives. So… might this account suggest that there are cases when Jesus won’t forgive?
Keeping in mind that I am not a trained theologian, I will now explore this question a bit.
Scriptures tell us that not everyone will get into heaven:
as well as the sexually immoral and the coveter (isn’t that an interesting pairing?).
If we ever thought that Jesus is too good and kind and loving to turn anyone away at the gates, I guess we need to think again. He is good and he is kind and he is loving—and he makes it very clear that heaven has standards, and we can’t meet them, and our only hope is to throw ourselves on his mercy: “No one comes to the Father except through me” –Jesus (John 4:16).
And he cursed a fruitless tree.
Man, oh man. I do not want to be a fruitless tree in the eyes of Jesus. “Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 3:10).
Forgiveness must be one of the fruits of my life, because God is clear on this point: if I don’t forgive others their trespasses against me, he will not forgive my trespasses against him.
I think the cursed fig tree had nothing to do with hanger issues, and everything to do with a crucial lesson. Jesus was about to be hung on a cross—illegitimately—in my place. If I, in turn, do not produce what he expects me to—what he commands me to—he needn’t extend his forgiveness to me.
That’s perfectly fair. And it ought to get me alarmingly serious about forgiveness.

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...[Jesus] was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.  And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.”
– Mark 11:12-14

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Lord, please don’t ever let me be a fruitless tree. You put me here for a reason, and you reconciled me to heaven for a reason, and you call me to bear good fruit for your kingdom. Keep reminding me, please, to take stock of the fruit I produce each day, whether it’s good or bad. Have I spread peace or propagated pain? Did I bear hope or did I break hearts? Was I the first to forgive or the last to let go?

40 Graces for Forgiveness: a Healing Journey is now available in print. $6.49 at

With questions for personal meditation and space for journaling, this 40-day devotional series offers a deeper look at Christ's command that we forgive. For a personal pilgrimage, or as a resource for group Bible study,40 Graces for Forgiveness: a Healing Journey invites seekers of forgiveness and healing to the path on which God longs to meet us all. $6.49 at Find out more about 40 Graces for Forgiveness: a Healing Journey.

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