Matthew 24:32-36 : Parable of the Fig Tree
Posted by adventbiblestudy on August 5, 2012
Matthew 24:32-36 “Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near. (33) In the same way, when you see all these things, you can know his return is very near, right at the door. (34) I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things take place. (35) Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear. (36) “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.
Jesus had to change the subject. He did not want His disciples to see how the thought of all the trials and deceptions the world was about to face effected Him. His breathing became heavy as His mind thought about the individual battles about to be fought, how some would try to fight Satan and his agents on their own and fail. Some would simply give up. Others found the lure of the world too much. So many would never know Jesus, how much He loved them, and what He had to offer. A few moments in the sun was the best they could hope for. Exchanging so little to give up eternal life.
He looked away from the fire, raised His hands to His face and prayed. He needed an example to continue the lesson. One that His disciples would understand and remember. They watched Jesus and waited. They could tell He was preparing to tell them something important. At last He turned back to them and continued the lesson. “Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see all these things, you can know his return is very near, right at the door.”
Jesus hoped they remembered how carefully He inspected each branch on the fig tree at the beginning of the day. He hoped it was an image they would not easily forget. He wanted them not only to remember, but practice it.
Not many people look at branches in the early spring. Most people don’t notice a change until the tree is in full leaf, then they say, “summer is here.” The gardener and those relying on orchards carefully inspect branches at the first sign of spring. They look for signs of life. Tiny buds waiting for the warmth of the sun. They also look for dead branches. Trimming them before the sap begins running through the tree, sending new life to every bud. They cut off the dead branches in late winter, before bugs emerge from the ground looking for an easy meal. If the dead branches were trimmed too late, the life giving sap would flow out of the wounds, falling to the ground. Insects would find in easy route in to invade the entire tree. Proper timing allows the tree to heal and strengthen itself.
Experience will teach you, the promise of an early spring also means winter will lash out with a relentless fury at least one more time. After a warming spell, freezing temperatures will creep in, which can cause severe damage to the tree. Possibly damaging it to a point the tree will no longer produce fruit.
As the weather fluctuates branches are inspected in greater detail. The experienced gardener will know the life cycle of the bud on an intimate level. Each stage will be observed. The tiny bud. The transparent skin on the outside that begins to shine, then becomes thicker and hazy. The growing bud now has a protective coating. As the bud grows, the outer skins also transforms. It expands, changes color, and hardens as temperatures warm and threats increase. As leaf buds mature, a transformation seems to take place over night. Smaller buds on the very end of the smallest branches push put ever so slightly. They have been building up strength for some weeks now. The thin bark on the end of the tender branches softens, allowing new buds to emerge. At first they are nothing more than a little shoot, not much thinker than a hair. On the end a bulb appears. Over the coming days the bulb grows, getting larger and larger. Color begins to show. Finally flowers appear. Trees shoot forth a promise of an abundant harvest.
Flowers are most vulnerable to extreme weather changes. Too much heat and wind will rob the flower of the necessary moisture and nutrients required to begin the next stage of setting the fruit bud. Extreme low temperatures will kill the flowers and fruit buds in hours. The proper balance must be maintained for the tree to produce fruit.
While the flower buds are working hard, leaf buds are waiting until the proper amount of sap from the tree will begin to feed them. Once the operation begins, the leaf begins forming inside the bud. Like a tiny womb, each leaf is formed in perfect order.
Once the weather sufficiently warms, daylight hours are at the proper length, and spring rains provide moisture, the outside protective skin hardens and cracks, exposing each leaf to outside air for the first time. Each leaf begins collecting air from the outside, while receiving moisture from the inside. It is nothing short of a miracle in progress. The mission of every branch is to produce more branches, fruit and seed on a geometrical scale.
Jesus hoped to direct the minds of His disciples to the beginning of the day. He wanted them to associate the growing branch to the lessons taught in the temple court. He did not want them to be barren, fruitless branches like the withered fig tree. He wanted them to grow in the unseen ways the branch takes the gifts God provides, each individual part working together to produce fruit for the harvest. To emphasize this point Jesus added, “I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.”
Jesus knew His words made little sense to them at the moment, they were designed to provide hope and assurance for the coming days. The branch lives, breaths, and produces its abundant crop, not by its own efforts, but relies totally on God for the most basic essentials. Branches need so little, but are capable of producing so much. To remind them how they were to depend on the Father, Jesus added, “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.”
Once again Jesus reminded them where He received His guidance, power, and peace from. If there was one lesson for them to learn, it was to rely totally on God for everything.
This entry was posted on August 5, 2012 at 11:46 pm and is filed under Gospel Messages Matthew. Tagged: but my words will never disappear, Heaven and earth will disappear, Matthew 24:32-36 : Parable of the Fig Tree, Only the Father knows, right at the door, When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.