“A people producing its fruits”
Jesus taught saying,
“I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits” (Matthew 21:43).
The life of Jesus was reaching its climax when he said this in the last of several parables in today’s chapter in Matthew. He had had a triumphant entry into Jerusalem and this had aroused the jealousy and anger of the religious leaders. He had cursed a fig tree
“and said to it, ‘may no fruit ever come from you again’” (verse 19).
The Jews to whom he spoke, in rejecting their Messiah, saw their Temple destroyed just forty years later. They had not learnt the lesson of what happened in the days of Jeremiah who prophecy we are also reading at present.
The people, the Gentiles, to whom the kingdom was given, were to produce fruits for God. This they did, as the gospel message spread through the Roman Empire and beyond over the next 300 years, it even came to India in the second century. But then the fruit became of doubtful quality. When printing was invented 600 years ago the Bible was translated and printed in many languages, the original message gained fresh impetus and produced fresh fruit. But now that impetus has faded away and again the fruit is increasingly useless to God.
When Paul wrote to the Romans he used the same analogy about trees and their branches, saying the Jewish
“branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in”.
Then he warns them,
“do not be arrogant toward the branches … if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you” (11:17,21).
What we see today among nearly all churches is an anaemic shadow of the original gospel, we also see, especially on the part of the nations, an arrogance toward the original branches, the Jews. There is a failure to recognise the miracle of their regathering as a nation after going into oblivion for nearly 1,900 years.
Where are those who are “producing its fruits”?
So many are producing “fruit” that God cannot use, it is the product of human wisdom. Let us take to heart what James wrote,
“the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits” (3:17).
Let us try harder to produce fruit God can use.