Lent

Lessons from a Fig Tree - 4th Week in Lent


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The only people that Jesus ever came down hard on in the pages of Scripture were the religious leaders. People that should have known better, but acted poorly anyway. In this parable Jesus talks about those who look good from a distance, but not good at all up close.

Speaker: Pastor Harry Colegrove
Series: Lent
Date: March 31, 2019
Download: Lessons from a Fig Tree - 4th Week in Lent
Scriptures: Matthew 21:18-22
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Fourth Week in Lent - Lessons from a Fig Tree

This is the Fourth Sunday in Lent

Lent is a season that is not typically celebrated in many Evangelical churches

However, it’s something that I’d like to start celebrating

Lent is a period of 40 days, not counting Sundays, before Easter. It starts on what we know as Ash Wednesday and goes until just before Easter

The 40 days of Lent coincide with the 40 days that Jesus fasted in the wilderness after His baptism

During Lenten season we are asked to focus on prayer, penance (asking forgiveness for our sins), repentance (turning away from our sins), almsgiving (giving to those in need), and self denial (fasting).

I’ve entitled my message today “Lessons from a Fig Tree”

Our passage for today is found in Matthew 21 starting at verse 18

Matthew 21:18-22 Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19  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. 20  When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. "How did the fig tree wither so quickly?" they asked. 21  Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. 22  If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."

Kind of an interesting story!

There are two parts to this story that have related, yet separate messages

Let’s take a look at the first part

Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19  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.

Ok, so what’s going on here?

First of all we need to take a look at the setting

This event takes place just a couple days before Jesus was arrested and crucified

The day before this Jesus came riding into Jerusalem in what we call Palm Sunday

He had chased all the money changers and merchants out of the temple, and after that had gone to the nearby town of Bethany for the night

Most likely he stayed with his friend Lazarus, who He had raised from the dead, and Lazarus’ two sisters Mary and Martha

The next morning Jesus is heading back to Jerusalem and became hungry

Let me stop right here for a moment

Think about this fact - Jesus was hungry

For some of you that might not seem like a big deal, after all every one of us gets hungry

But I will openly admit that for the longest time in the early days of my faith journey I never really thought about the fact that when Jesus was on the earth He was fully human

He experienced every emotion and feeling that we do

Jesus got hungry, Jesus got cold, Jesus was happy, angry, sad, lonely, etc just like the rest of us

Jesus burped, passed gas, and went to the bathroom just like every other human on the planet

The Bible tells us that Jesus had brothers and sister, and I am certain He got annoyed with them at times just like every other sibling on the planet

It brings me comfort to know that my God experienced the same range of feelings, emotions, and temptations that I do

Yes society has changed significantly, but human nature really hasn’t

So, anyway, Jesus was hungry and noticed that off in the distance was a fig tree

This fig tree was along a public road instead of a farmer’s field or person’s yard, so that automatically made it a tree that anyone could legally eat from

Jesus notices that there are leaves on the fig tree so He goes up to get something to eat

To us this wouldn’t seem like a big deal because we don’t have fig trees here in north central Pennsylvania

In fact, I had never even seen a fig tree until I went to Albania back in 2011

To be completely honest, my only experience with eating figs has been fig newton cookies so I really don’t even know what a fig tastes like!

I say this to point out that in our particular culture we don’t know a lot about figs and fig trees at all

However fig trees are incredibly common in Israel, so they are something that Jesus would have been very familiar with

Here’s an interesting fact about fig trees - the fruit of a fig tree begins to grow before the leaves do

So, if you see a fig tree with leaves, it is safe to assume that there are also figs on the tree

In Israel figs typically are not ready to be picked until late May or June

This story was taking place in the month of April

How do I know this? Because Jesus was in Jerusalem to celebrate the passover, and that happened in April

So, Jesus was probably surprised to see a fig tree with leaves, because it was not the season fo it yet

Jesus, being hungry and seeing the leaves on the fig tree, naturally assumes that there are figs on the tree so He goes up to it to get something to eat

However there are no figs on the tree - so what does Jesus do?

Then he said to it, "May you never bear fruit again!" Immediately the tree withered.

Woah! Looks like Jesus got a little hangry there didn’t He?

Is this what is happening though? Did Jesus cause the tree to wither and die because He was mad?

Maybe - after all, getting angry is not a sin

Sin comes when we do not handle our anger properly

Causing a tree to wither is certainly attention getting, but it’s not a sin so maybe Jesus did this simply because He was mad

If that’s the case this is another thing that brings me comfort!

Why do I say that?

Because I’ve done a lot of dumb things when I have been angry

I’ve said things that I would normally never say

I’ve done things that I normally would never do

Anger can make us stupid!

Again, Jesus did not sin, and I am not suggesting that what Jesus did was stupid, but I can certainly understand reacting in anger like Jesus did

It gives me hope that I can be angry and not sin, just like Jesus was

So did Jesus react in anger?

Honestly, although it’s possible I don’t think He did

I think that there was a deeper lesson that Jesus was trying to communicate

What was that lesson?

 

Jesus was constantly calling out the religious leaders of His day

In fact, the religious leaders are the only ones that you ever hear Jesus speaking harshly with

One time Jesus called them “white washed tombs”

Jesus also compared the religious leaders to a cup that was only washed on the outside, but the inside was still dirty

Jesus carries on this line of thought with the lesson from the fig tree

The fig tree looked good from a distance

In fact, not only did it look good it looked superior because there were leaves on it well before there should have been

However, when Jesus got close to the tree He made the discovery that even though the tree looked good from a distance, on closer examination there was no fruit

What was thought to be a superior tree was actually not only inferior, but worthless because there was no fruit at all

Sadly, the world has no shortage of people that are just like this tree

We look really good from a distance, but a close examination shows that things are not like they should be

I call this the “social media effect”

Ever notice that when you look at most people’s social media pages that everything looks great?

Yes, we all know people who are incredibly passive aggressive in social media or people who are constantly whining and complaining

But for most people, when you look at their Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or whatever other social media site they post on what do you see?

Filtered pictures that slim, smooth, and hide our imperfections

We see vacation pictures, pictures of our meals, and pictures of us working out - often posted to either make us look better or make others feel a little jealous

We see smiles and happiness and a “everything is perfect in my world” facade

And I was purposeful in using the word facade because that’s exactly what it is - a facade

It’s not real

Nobody has a perfect life

The problem with putting up a facade is this - I tend to compare my reality with your facade

When I do that it’s easy for me to then make the assumption that God loves you more than He loves me

The assumption that there is something fundamentally wrong with me because I don’t have the perfect marriage, the perfect children, the perfect job, or the perfect life that I see on people’s social media facade

It can easily make me feel that my life totally stinks, when in reality it doesn’t

Let me clarify a couple things before I go on

I don’t think there is anything wrong with social media in and of itself

How we USE social media can be wrong, but social media itself certainly isn’t

I use social media extensively

I’m on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat every day - multiple times a day in fact

I post pictures of my family, my vacations, and even the occasional workout or meal

The only thing I don’t normally do is use picture filters because everyone already knows I’m ugly!

Here’s the other thing - it’s not just social media, we do this in every other aspect of our lives as well

You could be having an absolutely terrible day, yet when someone says “Hi, how are you?” How do you respond?

Most people will say some version of “good” or “great”

Rarely are we honest, and if we are the people that asked how we were doing tend to find an excuse to run off!

This is something that is especially bad in a lot of the Christian world

For whatever reason the culture in the typical church is a “praise God, follow Jesus and everything will be perfect” environment

I only have one thing to say about that - Stop it!

We need to be real!

We need to be honest!

I’m sick and tired of preachers, church leaders, and christians in general putting on phony facades

We will accomplish far more in our culture by being real and honest

I’ll be the first to say that I am far from perfect

Most of you have heard me say multiple times that I am just a screwed up preacher trying to help screwed up people follow Jesus!

I am living proof of God’s grace and mercy, because if God can put a guy like me behind a pulpit then He can do anything with anyone

We will reach far more people by being honest and real about our problems, fears, and struggles than we ever would by faking it

I have never been the man that I should be, but thank God I am not the man I used to be!

I am not perfect, but then again, my goal is progress, not perfection

With the help of God and other people I am slowly becoming the man I should be - but I will never reach that goal if I am not real and honest

I don’t ever want to be like the fig tree - looking amazing on the outside but worthless on the inside

And with God’s help and the fellowship of other believers I don’t have to be!

There is more to this story

20  When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. "How did the fig tree wither so quickly?" they asked. 21  Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. 22  If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."

Jesus had another lesson for His disciples - a lesson on faith

The disciples were absolutely amazed that the fig tree withered up after Jesus effectively cursed it

What was Jesus’ reply?

“You were impressed by that? That was nothing! If you have faith and don’t doubt you can do far more amazing things than that!”

Yes, this is a lesson on faith, but I think it goes deeper than what we think it does

You’ve heard me say this many times, but it’s always a good reminder

Scripture says that Jesus did everything He did on this earth - all the miracles, signs, and wonders - as fully human through the power of the Holy Spirit

Yes, Jesus is God - however when Jesus came to earth He willingly laid aside His deity and live His life here as fully human

This is why Jesus needed the Baptism in the Holy Spirit that He experienced when John the Baptist baptized Him in the Jordan

This is why Jesus spent so much time in prayer

Everything He did was through the power of the Holy Spirit - the same Holy Spirit that lives in you and me!

Jesus is telling His disciples that they could do what He did

And what did Jesus do?

He cursed an unproductive fig tree and it withered

Jesus was so in touch with God, was so filled with the Holy Spirit, had such an anointing of the Spirit of God on Him that when He cursed the fig tree - possibly because He was hangry - that it withered and died!

We have no idea about the power that we carry around with us every day!

The spiritual power that we have access to

Jesus said that if we ask in faith it will be done!

Of course, this requires that close, intimate walk with God, and when you are walking that close to God you tend not to ask for dumb things or selfish things

So, what do I want you to take away from today’s message?

First - Be real

Don’t put up a facade and pretend that life is different than what it really is

Be real and honest about your fears, failures, doubts, and struggles

I firmly believe that being real is one of the best ways to bring people to Jesus

Secondly - Live a life of faith

Know who you are

Know the power that you carry around with you

Build that relationship with God and draw as close to Him as you can

That will grow your faith, and then watch the miracles that happen!

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Creed part 9 - The Church

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2018-07-01 12:00:00

Creed part 8 - The Holy Spirit

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2018-06-17 12:00:00

Creed part 7 - The Return of Jesus

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2018-06-03 12:00:00

Prayer Series 7 - 13 (Click to toggle)

Prayer pt 13 - Praying in the Spirit

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2019-08-18 12:00:00

Prayer pt 12 - Supplication

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2019-08-11 12:00:00

Prayer pt 11 - Intercession

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2019-08-04 12:00:00

Prayer Pt 10 - Divine Intervention

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2019-07-07 12:00:00

Prayer Pt 8 - Wisdom & Understanding

Associate Pastor Michael Getgen
2019-06-30 12:00:00

Prayer pt 7 - Resting in the Lord

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2019-06-23 12:00:00

Life According to Jesus Series 1 - 8 (Click to toggle)

Life According to Jesus Part 8

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2020-03-15 12:00:00

Life According to Jesus Part 7

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2020-03-08 12:00:00

Life According to Jesus pt 6

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2020-02-23 12:00:00

Life According to Jesus pt 5 - What do we do with the Old Testament?

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2020-02-16 12:00:00

Life According to Jesus Part 4 Salt & Light

Associate Pastor Michael Getgen
2020-02-09 12:00:00

Life According to Jesus Part 3

Associate Pastor Michael Getgen
2020-02-02 12:00:00

Life According to Jesus Part 2

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2020-01-27 12:00:00

Life According to Jesus Part 1

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2020-01-19 12:00:00

The Book of James (Click to toggle)

Patience 

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2014-03-23 12:00:00

The Problem with Wealth

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2014-03-16 12:00:00

The Will of God

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2014-03-09 12:00:00

Opposed by God

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2014-03-02 12:00:00

Taming the Tongue

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2014-02-16 12:00:00

Real Faith

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2014-02-09 12:00:00

The Dangers of Favoritism

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2014-02-02 12:00:00

Hearing and Doing

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2014-01-19 12:00:00

Quick to Listen, Slow to Speak

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2014-01-12 12:00:00

Trials and Perseverance

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2014-01-05 12:00:00

Joshua Series (Click to toggle)

The Rewards of Faith

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2015-10-25 12:00:00

Unlikely Hero

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2015-10-18 12:00:00

Accomplishing the Impossible

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2015-10-11 12:00:00

On God’s Side

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2015-10-04 12:00:00

Making It Mine

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2015-09-27 12:00:00

A Step of Faith 

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2015-09-06 12:00:00

The Kingdom of God 1 - 7 (Click to toggle)

Something Better

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2016-02-28 12:00:00

Entering the Kingdom Part 4 

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2016-02-21 12:00:00

Entering the Kingdom Part 3

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2016-02-07 12:00:00

Entering the Kingdom Part 2

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2016-01-31 12:00:00

Entering the Kingdom Part 1

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2016-01-24 12:00:00

What is the Kingdom?

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2016-01-17 12:00:00

Kingdom vs Empire

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2016-01-10 12:00:00

The Kingdom of God 8 - 14 (Click to toggle)

An Offensive Faith

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2016-05-01 12:00:00

Small Beginning

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2016-04-24 12:00:00

Kingdom Change

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2016-04-17 12:00:00

The Faith of a Child

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2016-04-10 12:00:00

The Cross and the Kingdom

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2016-03-27 12:00:00

Open to the Kingdom

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2016-03-13 12:00:00

Heretics and Hypocrites 

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2016-03-06 12:00:00

Life According to Jesus Series 9 - 16 (Click to toggle)

Life According to Jesus Pt 16

Associate Pastor Michael Getgen
2020-05-31 12:00:00

Life According to Jesus Part 15 - Fasting

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2020-05-24 12:00:00

Life According to Jesus Part 14

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2020-05-10 12:00:00

Life According to Jesus Part 13

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2020-05-03 12:00:00

Life According to Jesus Part 12

Associate Pastor Michael Getgen
2020-04-26 12:00:00

Life According to Jesus Part 11

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2020-04-19 12:00:00

Life According to Jesus Part 10

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2020-04-05 12:00:00

Life According to Jesus Part 9

Pastor Michael Getgen
2020-03-29 12:00:00

Life According to Jesus Series 17 - 19 (Click to toggle)

Life According to Jesus Part 19 - The difference between Real and False Followers

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2020-06-28 12:00:00

Life According to Jesus Part 18

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2020-06-14 12:00:00

Life According to Jesus Part 17 - Worry

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2020-06-07 12:00:00

The Coming Battle (Click to toggle)

The Coming Battle - Helmet of Salvation

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2020-10-18 12:00:00

The Coming Battle - Shield of Faith


2020-10-11 12:00:00

The Coming Battle - Shoes of Peace

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2020-10-04 12:00:00

The Coming Battle - Breastplate of Righteousness

Associate Pastor Michael Gitgen
2020-09-27 12:00:00

The Coming Battle - Belt of Truth

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2020-09-20 12:00:00

The Coming Battle -Spiritual Armor

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2020-09-13 12:00:00

The Coming Battle - Strongholds

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2020-09-06 12:00:00

The Coming Battle - Lies of the Enemy

Associate Pastor Michael Getgen
2020-08-30 12:00:00

The Coming Battle Spiritual Forces

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2020-08-23 12:00:00

The Coming Battle

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2020-08-16 12:00:00

0:03 / 58:23 The Coming Tsunami

Pastor Harry Colegrove
2020-07-26 12:00:00

Harvest Family Fellowship

28 Shaffer Hill Road 

Liberty PA, 16930

Church: 570-324-2349

info@harvestfam.org

Pastor Harry Colegrove

Church: 570-324-2349

Cell: 570-772-3862

pastorharry@harvestfam.org

Assoc. Pastor Mike Getgen

Cell: 570-404-1536

pastormike@harvestfam.org