Holy Thoughts for Holy Week - Part 3
"And as they passed by in the morning they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, 'Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.'"
It may have been Tuesday of Jesus' final week. Peter sounded surprised when he saw the withered fig tree. It didn't take long! Indeed, it was only the previous day that Jesus cursed it for bearing no fruit.
No one should be more surprised when the word of God comes to pass. Yet all too often human nature is surprised. When Jesus said, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it again," the people disbelieved. When He warned Israel that "this generation will not pass until all these things take place, " the people yawned. When He warned the disciples they would all fall away, Peter boasted, "Even though they fall away, I will not."
But it didn't take long for these things to happen. God's word is "above all earthly powers," as Luther said. It brings life and strength to those who believe and warns of judgment on those who disbelieve. What a shame that many modern churches abandon God's word to make the Bible "more vigorous," as they say.
William Hill, the founder of the Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship (PEF) was once criticized for his boring sermons. He was urged to utilize interesting stories from science or current news. But that same week an impoverished widow who was a member of his church was told her son had been killed in World War II. He was all she had. The entire church was devastated. Bill Hill rose to speak the next Sunday and said, "I've been asked to improve my sermons with illustrations from science. Well, science, what do you have to say about this boy who died this week?" And there was silence. "Science, you have nothing to say? News commentators, do you have anything to say?" Again there was silence. Then Bill Hill opened his Bible and said, "I guess we've got to go back to the good old Book!" Billy Graham once said that Bill Hill should be called Bill Mountain!
What makes the Bible "more vigorous?" Absolutely nothing! It has omnipotent vigor! The grass withers and the flowers fade, but His word stands forever. History is a stern teacher. Just look at the fig tree, withered to its roots. Just look at Israel. Unbelief and disobedience lead to ruin and it doesn't take long.