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Withered Fig Trees and a Resurrection Snack

We spent our Resurrection Sunday on a plane. Traveling home from a weekend full of celebrations of life and family and log-cabin-snuggles and deep-breaths-of-juniper. It felt strange, really. Not stopping to worship formally. Corporately. Or traditionally.

Yesterday morning, I settled in to the lanai table with our babe rocking in his chair next to me. And I opened to Luke, reading the story of the days after the cross. The days when the people closest to Jesus were still gobsmacked at what had taken place. Wrestling through grief. And faith-as-sight. And the shocking understanding that what they believed of Him all that time really was true.

It was the very same day that the tomb was found empty that two of the men were walking on the road.  With seven miles ahead of them, and nothing to do but debrief on what the heck had just happened, they walked. And talked. And walked some more. And, eventually, they met another Man on their way who joined them. His steps falling into the cadence of theirs.

Later than night, at the way-past-dinner-time dinner table, they suddenly understood Who that Man was. Just in time for Him to vanish. And the men-who-walked-seven-miles turned around and hightailed it back to the city from which they came. The one where the rest of the inner circle of the Man-Who-was-crucified remained. They came back to share their story of Him coming back to solidify His.

They were shocked. Absolutely shocked. They had watched Him die. And His body be taken down. They knew the tomb where His body lay. And they saw the grave clothes laying there, without the body they once held. And now, as if it was completely normal, He stood before them. But they still did not believe for joy.

They couldn’t wrap their minds around the fact that Jesus was alive and well, standing before them, because of the joy and amazement that took over. It was all too much. It seemed too good to be true.  So they stood there. Undecided about it all. Filled with equal parts of joy and doubt. Continually not believing and marveling and not believing and marveling. Until, eventually, Jesus broke the awkwardness.  And asked one simple question:

Do you have anything to eat?

It’s the only time anywhere in the Greek that the phrase is used. And I imagine He asked it with a twinkle in His eye to those dumbfounded and staring men.

So they gave Him a piece of broiled fish. And some honeycomb. And He ate it in their presence.

But when Jesus asked for something to eat, He didn’t ask for nourishment for His body (although physically watching Him eat made His presence there before them that much more real).

That one-time-in-one-verse Greek word points back to one Hebrew verse in the Old Testament. And that one-Hebrew-verse connects again to a three-sentence, somewhat innocuous lesson that was recorded by Matthew. After the palms were laid down. In the midst of the pre-crucifixion-chaos. It was a seemingly less-important detail that could have easily been missed.

That lesson-recorded-by-Matthew was another time that Jesus was hungry. And He saw a chapter-21-fig-tree on the side of the road. So He walked over to get a piece of its delicately sweet and succulent fruit. But there wasn’t any. Not one piece of fruit anywhere on the tree. So right there in the middle of verse 19, He cursed the tree. And the fruit-tree-that-bore-no-fruit withered. And never bore fruit again.

When Jesus asked for something to eat in Luke 24, the only-time-used-in-the-Greek-phrase pointed back to Ezekiel 47:12. The verse that finds a man following around an Angel who was measuring the temple that was patterned after heaven when he pointed to the front door of the structure, and the water that flowed out from under the threshold of it. The water-that-became-a-river.

“All kinds of fruit trees will grow along the riverbanks,” he said. “The leaves will never wither. The fruit will never fail. There will be a new crop, every month, without fail.”

And what Ezekiel describes as literal trees growing along the springing-forth-from-the-temple-river? Isaiah describes as the people of God – planted by Him to display His glory in their chapter-61-verse-3-fruit. The same people who delight in God’s Word, chewing on Scripture day and night, and bearing Psalm-1:3-fruit every month. Never dropping a leaf. Perpetually in bloom.

And then we circle back to Luke 24. With Jesus asking a question He already knew the answer to. He stood before men who watched their God, mentor, and hero be killed right in front of their eyes. And in their grief and loss and struggle to believe the too-g0od-to-be-true-Miracle standing before them, they had no idea of the fruit that those unbelievable-minutes would bring.

In Matthew 21, Jesus came upon a fruit-tree-that-bore-no-fruit. And in Luke 24, He stood before twelve God-planted-trees-of-righteousness who were gloriously unaware of their fruit.

And they gave Him something to eat. And He smiled. Because He knew just how far their fruit-stories would go.

And He would be glorified.

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