Mark 11:12-14, 20-24 Grown Up and Graduated
Graduation is a very important achievement in the life of a student. It says that you have accomplished a task, a goal and that you have finished what you started. Graduation is also a rite of passage. You have grown up. You have grown out of the times of learning to the times of applying what you have learned. You have grown out of the times of studying to the times of doing.
You may be young, but you are not children. You have grown up. You are not just young adults, but well-educated young adults. But more importantly, you are the leaders of the next generation.
As pastor of International Baptist Church Bremen, I have been proud to see you walk through our doors in the church. It has been a privilege to see you grow up. The deacons and I, (and essentially everyone in the church) agree that it is a special privilege to have you amongst our church family. Now I know that there are students here who attend other churches. These churches are also privileged to have you there. Why?
Because we know that you will make an impact on your generation. We know that God is going to use you, perhaps in various places around the world. We agree that you will be the leaders, movers, and innovators of the next generation.
You have received instruction from some of the best people in their respective fields. In essence, your roots have been firmly established. You are like the fig tree that Jesus encountered. Your scholarly and spiritual roots are grounded firmly. You have received scholarly instruction at IUB, and spiritual instruction in your International Christian Fellowship. There is no denying that you have been well-fed.
The fig tree teaches us a lesson about ourselves and being grown up. The leaves have returned, but there is no fruit. Fruit naturally grows at the same time as the leaves. So since there were leaves, there should have been fruit. The leaves point to the fact that fig tree grew, but there should have been fruit. Since the leaves show that there should have been fruit, it was very odd that the fig tree had leaves but no fruit.
Therefore disciples never questioned the fact that Jesus cursed it. They did not say to Jesus “Hey, teacher, give this tree a chance!” No, they were amazed that the tree died. So what does this experience with the fig tree teach us as Christians?
When a tree grows, the natural consequence of growth is to produce fruit. You know that the tree has grown because it has produced fruit.
In the same way, you have grown here, and now the obligation is to produce. You have received an excellent education, and now it is time to build a career, return to your homeland or somewhere else and make an impact. Sure some folks here will go and further their studies, but in the end, you will produce. It is expected that since you (or your parents) have invested so much time and money in yourself, you would put it to good use.
Spiritually speaking, you are also expected to produce. You have been taught by Christian leaders and you have participated in a wealth of experiences that require you to produce. This means that there will come a time when you need to trust God in faith. Some of you will do that when you make decisions where you will go. This is what Jesus means when He talks about moving mountains. You will begin to live by faith even after you have graduated because you have been firmly rooted. You have been nourished and watered. You have grown up. A grown-up Christian is a Christian who lives by faith.
But what I want you to notice is this: Jesus curses the fig tree because the fig tree did not produce out of season. That is strange. You expect a fig tree to produce in late May or June. But Jesus cursed the fig tree because it didn’t produce fruit even when the fig tree wasn’t expected to produce, in early April.
It wasn’t the season for figs. But Jesus wanted to eat a fig. It would be like if Jesus was walking down the street of Bremen and goes to the local McDonald’s and He wants to order a hamburger. But no one is producing hamburgers. Because it is 2 o’clock in the morning. Jesus is like some of you. He has been up all night studying or doing something, and now Jesus is hungry. He’s got the late night munchies. So he goes over to the McDonald’s. McDonald’s is open, but they are not serving hamburgers at 2am. The workers are not even serving breakfast at 2am. They are just sitting there inside the McDonalds playing cards, but not producing. The employees think it is too early for the store to be serving customers. So Jesus closes the store and says it cannot open ever again.
What was the point? Jesus wants the tree, and by application His children, to be ready to produce at all times. You have learned some things for a reason. You have built some relationships for a reason. God wants you ready to serve Him. God has prepared you to be ready at any time to serve Him. God has given you this time of growth. Now He wants you to be ready to impact this generation for Him.
So go out there. Explore in faith the discoveries that God has for you. Look back at this time at IUB with warm memories. Be ready for God to use you in mighty ways, in good and bad times. God wants you to influence and impact your generation. God loves you. He wants you to share that love with your generation.