And seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves. Mark 11:13
Shirley Temple, as a young movie star, was labeled as precocious. The dictionary definition is one who has developed to a point beyond that which is normal for their age.
When Jesus was entering Jerusalem He saw in the distance a fig tree in leaf. When a fig tree is in leaf, it is expected that fruit will be there also. It was certainly early April. Fig trees do not normally leaf and bear fruit until the end of May or early June; thus, the fig tree that Jesus sees is unusual.
So, Jesus approaches the tree and discovers it is not bearing any fruit. The tree is precocious; it is a hypocrite tree. It leafs without bearing fruit. Figs would be normal on the tree, even if it passed through winter with leaves; while the fruit might be dried, the fruit would be edible. Surprise!
The tree fails to produce what is promised of the tree. It is style without substance. It is talking a great story, while being careful not to expose your problem. It is hypocrisy. The foliage is just a mask to pretend what it is not. Foliage is a horrible substitute for figs; leaves are not the best tasting, nor are they very nutritious. In addition, if you have ever held a fig leaf in your hand, you would wonder if the couple in the garden gave much thought to making their clothes from them; fig leaves are like sandpaper!
In every community (neighborhood, business, institution, government group, etc.) there are always enthusiastic Christians who do what God intends. However, the vast majority of Christians are CINOs (Christians in Name Only). They are hypocrites. They only have a nominal/external connection with the church. Baptized and brought into the church, they think that their only responsibility is to attend worship services on occasion. Regular is not in their vocabulary. Sunday morning Bible Study is not in their day-planner. Heaven forbid if one of them should be asked about coming to Sunday evening/mid-week prayer services (if you even have these anymore). And, do not ask them to give to the church, they have “needs” of my own, thank you. Christianity is most often thought as being a member of a local church—far removed from how Christianity is described in the Scriptures. Hypocrites.
So, here is this fig tree, lots of leaves, but no figs. The “hypocrite tree.” A current picture of many churches in our culture. Religion abounds in their thinking, their books on the shelf, their vocabulary, their hereditary, and the rituals they join with in the church. As hypocrites they are frozen, fossilized into a cold, dead personal theology. At one time they were seen with great promise; now they only perform the script of expectations. Dead in their hearts; pictured among the churches of the Revelation. No fruit.
Interestingly, the picture of the current culture church is replicated in the current leadership of our culture. What else would we expect?
Are we just wearing the suit? We have the leaves, but not the fruit? Are we hypocrite leaders, parents, workers, or church members? We need to shed the false leaves and put on Christ. Bear fruit.
How much does the following lines of an old hymn really describe us?
May no one ever eat fruit from you again! You are a hypocrite. All He finds is leaves. The Master is seeking a harvest in lives He’s redeemed by His blood; He seeks for the fruit of the Spirit, and works that will glorify God. Nothing but leaves for the Master, oh, how His loving heart grieves, When instead of the fruit He is seeking, we offer Him nothing but leaves —H.S. Lehman 1924