“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25)
Given that it was not the season for figs, what crime did this fig tree commit to deserve such a curse from Jesus Christ? The tree was attractive from a distance but upon close examination, it was useless. Despite the leaves, there were no figs developing on it.
Like this tree, many of us Christians are externally attractive but are empty within. We preach love in public but practice hatred in secret. We are more concerned about maintaining a positive image than actually doing what God desires. This is called Hypocrisy or “packaging” if you like.
Hypocrisy is living a lie. It is making everyone believe you are good when you are not. Just like the temple that appeared good externally but had become an extension of the market; a den of robbers, the fig tree was full of leaves (at a time when it shouldn’t have leaves since it was not the season) but it lacked figs.
Jesus cursed the tree because it had lost the purpose of its existence. It was now good for firewood. As Jesus would say: “If salt has lost its taste, of what good is it anymore other than to be thrown down and trodden under foot by men?” (Cf. Matthew 5:13, Luke 14:34). In a sense, the curse Jesus placed on the fig tree prophetically became the fate of that Temple in 70 AD.
The disciples of Jesus were surprised the following day to see the fig tree withered. Obviously, they didn’t expect Jesus’ words to come to pass so quickly. Words are powerful. Believe it, there is so much power in your tongue. Jesus tells us to pray with faith. Whatever we say when we pray will surely come to pass.
“Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:23-24)
It is funny how we make up our minds never to forgive others for the wrongs they have done to us but we ask God every day to forgive and forget our own sins. For me, this is hypocrisy. It is asking God to turn a blind eye on your faults while you try to crush others to pieces for their own faults. Why do you assume you are perfect and others are bad?
The cure for hypocrisy is a constant examination of conscience. It is being able to judge yourself, admitting your faults while making concrete efforts to repent. The hypocrite knows the house is dirty and smelling, he goes ahead to paint the outside walls but allows the inside to decay even more. The Christian knows the house is dirty and smelling, he begins the washing from the inside gradually, cleans everywhere before painting the outside.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, free me from hypocrisy. Amen.
Bible Study: Sirach 44:1.9-13, Psalm 149 and Mark 11:11-25).