Jesus Poster BulletinOne of the indirect but still powerful testimonies that the New Testament has divine origin has to do with the fact that some of the things Jesus did that would be considered “strange” were not left out of the biblical narrative.

If I were trying to pass off a book as being divinely inspired even though it weren’t, I would have not kept the part where Jesus said that He didn’t know the day and the time of the coming of the Son of man in glory. What do you mean you don’t know? Aren’t you God?

What about the time when Jesus asked the crowd “Who touched me?” after the woman with the issue of blood was healed? The disciples said, “Are you kidding us, Lord? The crowds are pressing against you and you ask, ‘Who touched me?’”

Then there was the famous tree-cursing incident. No matter how you shake it, the tree went down. But why? From a distance, Jesus saw that the tree was in bloom, but when he got there, the fruits were missing. As God, didn’t He know that there were no fruits on the tree?

People come up with all kinds of explanations as to why Jesus did this. As far as I know, this is the only time Jesus did something that caused some kind of damage to nature, unless you consider his causing a fish to swallow a silver coin an environmental crime, provided that Jesus actually did this. (Maybe He just knew that the coin was there, in which case He saved the fish, unless, of course, Peter, who had caught it, decided to have it for dinner. It was, after all, a “large fish,” Matthew said).

Most of the explanations fail to recognize two things:

  1. a) They neglect the fact that Mark tells us that it was not the season for figs. This eliminates any speculation that the tree was barren. Quite the contrary: Jesus said, “May no one ever eat fruit from you AGAIN.”
  2. b) They fail to pay attention to Jesus’ own words explaining the point behind the cursing of the tree to the disciples. The disciples were marveling at how the tree had quickly withered. They didn’t stage a protest or call the Environmental Protection Agency. The disciples were no tree-huggers either; the only thing they thought was amiss was the fact that the tree withered so quickly at Jesus’ command.

Jesus told them: “Have faith in God…Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:23-24).

Is that clear? Well, yes and no. How do you go from cursed tree to bended knee? It’s strange, I know, but Jesus used a dead tree to illustrate something about the power of prayer. And I have come to the conclusion that I don’t have to find any deeper meaning other than this: Jesus is powerful enough to command a tree to be no more and He says that if we have faith we will also see amazing things happen at God’s command.

That’s all. I don’t need to find a “rational” explanation as to why Jesus got upset with a tree. He was fully human and humans get hungry and angry. As God, He was also the Lord of creation. He had the right to bring forth fruit from a tree or command it to wither and die. It’s His prerogative and I am fine with that.

And I am glad that Christ’s biographers left this account there. It shows me that there are certain things we do that are “strange” but they are not necessarily evil. They are functions of our shared humanity, which Jesus also shared.

May I have that same kind of faith that allows me to see God work in miraculous ways, removing obstacles I may see as mountains but He sees as a little tree that failed to deliver fruit to the One who gave fruit to the maker of all trees Himself.

And I am glad to report that no trees were harmed in the production of this post.

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA