October 13 I Wednesday
1 Thessalonians 1
“‘How do You know me?’ Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, ‘I saw you while you were still under the fig-tree before Philip called you.’” —John 1:48
The eyes of the Lord are always watching, and we find that about 88 times in the NIV translation. The Lord Jesus Christ sees us, just as He did when He saw Nathanael under a fig tree before they formally met. But there is something interesting about fig trees, when we see them in Scripture; they are often used symbolically.
We first encounter fig trees in the Garden of Eden, where God told Adam and Eve that they could do whatever they liked except one thing—eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They ate of the tree and what happened next? They discovered their nakedness and tried to cover themselves with fig leaves. Fig leaves seem to represent human activity, human attempts and human ability, which are not adequate. Because, after the fall of humanity, God made Adam and Eve clothes of skin, where an animal had to die in order to clothe them. That was the first foreshadow of what is fleshed out in the Law of Moses, where the death of an animal is a substitute that covers our sin. This finds its culmination in the New Testament through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross that not only covers our sins, it removes our sins.
A week before Jesus was crucified, He passed a fig tree that was full of leaves, but had no fruit, so He cursed it. The next day, the fig tree withered up. There is also a parable that Jesus told regarding a fig tree: “A man had a fig-tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig-tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ ‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig round it and fertilise it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down’” (Luke 13:6-9). Although Jesus never truly explained the parable, the fig tree represents Israel and its lack of a true relationship with God. They engage in all kinds of religious activity, but there is no life.
Fig trees represent human attempts and human abilities that do not produce fruit. Are we hiding under a fig tree—under our good works, our reputation, our self-sustaining ability—to keep a good front, thinking that will suffice? We are told to hide in God, and never to hide from God.
Prayer: Precious Jesus, hide me in You. I want to be a tree that bears fruit in response to You. Thank you, Jesus.