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THE MORAL OF THE BANNED FIG-TREE.pdf

THE MORAL OF THE BANNED FIG-TREE.pdf

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Published by glennpease
BY SAMUEL COX


And Jesus, answering, said unto them, Have faith in God."
Mark xi. 22.
BY SAMUEL COX


And Jesus, answering, said unto them, Have faith in God."
Mark xi. 22.

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Published by: glennpease on Nov 09, 2013
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11/18/2014

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THE MORAL OF THE BANNED FIG-TREE.BY SAMUEL COXAnd Jesus, answering, said unto them, Have faith in God."Mark xi. 22.Many are the difficulties which cluster round this nar-rative, and many are the morals which have been drawnfrom it. But most of these difficulties are common tothis and to every other exercise of miraculous power.The only difficulty special to this miracle is, that hereHe, who came to save and bless, bans and destroys one of the creatures He had made, and so appears to depart fromthe attitude of grace which He habitually sustained. Yet,to the thoughtful heart, this, surely, can be no difficultyat all. For, first, do not a thousand trees perish everyyear by what we call " the act of God " — swept down bystorms, struck by lightning, or consumed by lightning-kindled fires ? And, then, for every tree destroyed bythe act of God, are not a thousand more destroyed bythe act of man — to feed his hearth, to build his housesor his ships } How, then, can we grudge to the Son of God and Man this one poor fruit-tree which had ceasedto bring forth fruit? If any peasant of Bethphage had404 THE MORAL OF THE BANNED FIG-TREE.wanted it to fence his field with or to keep him warm inwinter, if Herod or Pilate had simply cut it down towiden the road, we should have heard no word of com-plaint against them. For nothing lives to itself, or diesto itself All things exist for their uses ; and the higherthe use to which they are put the more truly do theyanswer the end for which they were made. And is it
 
not a higher use to teach men than to feed them, tominister to their spiritual than to their physical wants >Left to itself, the fig-tree could at most have yielded afew more figs, or, failing figs, a few rails or a little fire-wood, and then have ceased to be or to be remembered.Banned by Christ, it has become immortal, and hasbeen put to an immortal use — living for ever in theSacred Page, and teaching men the truth they mostneed to know generation after generation.In vindicating this miracle, therefore, we need notinsist on Christ's mere right to the tree, a right whichHe shared with every son of man. We may, rather,,contend that his very " curse " was an act of grace, andlifted the tree to a higher use than but for his grace itcould have attained. We may plead that He conferredimmortality upon it, and an immortality of service ; thatHe put the last honour upon it by demanding that itshould " die to live," as He Himself was about to do.And were we, like Professor Drummond,' to attributeintelligence and will to the trees and beasts of the field,we might fairly conclude that, if this fig-tree were a treeof any nobility and ambition, it could not but rejoice' In Nahiral Law in the Spintual World.77^5" MORAL OF THE BANNED FIG-TREE. 405that it was counted worthy of so high a task and func-tion as Christ imposed upon it.What, then, was the lesson which Christ employed itto teach and to enforce ? Many answers have been givento that question. Some hold that the disciples wouldinevitably connect this miracle with the parable of TheBarren Fig-tree, and find in it a forewarning of the doomwhich was soon to be inflicted on the Jewish nation andchurch. Others hold that it was intended as a warningto the members of the Christian Church in every age,
 
a warning against the faith which is without works.Nor would I take it on me to say that either of thesewarnings is illegitimate, and, still less, that either of them is unnecessary. All I would say is that, beforedrawing any other moral from this incident, we oughtat least to accept the moral which our Lord Himself drew from it. And his moral is : Have faith in God ;not a warning at all, therefore, but an invitation to trust,to rely on the power and grace of Him who made allthings and who rules over all.Now this is a moral, a lesson, which lifts our hearts toanother and a much higher plane of thought. Insteadof listening to a warning against sin and weakness, or arebuke of them, we are encouraged to exercise a graceby which alone our sin and weakness can be removed.It points us to the secret of Christ's power over tree andmountain, and bids us make that secret, that power, ourown. In the beginning Man was crowned king overthis lower world. All things were put under his feetwhen he was created in the image of God. That image,4o6 THE MORAL OF THE BANNED FIG-TREE.lost or marred in Adam, was restored in Christ. Andin proportion as, by faith in Him, we become true andcomplete men in Christ Jesus, we recover our originalbirthright ; all things are ours and work our will.This I take to be, in general, the lesson taught by thebanned and withering Fig-tree, as taught by our LordHimself. But it is easy to put a more definite meaninginto it from the context, and thus to make it bear moreimmediately on the common round of thought and thedaily duties of life.As they beheld this exhibition of Divine power andgrace, the disciples were lost in astonishment. Dwell-

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