Long ago there were three trees. One was a fig tree, one a sycamore tree, and the last tree we know not what type it was. Regardless of what the last tree was made of, we want to look at the significance of the three trees.
One Man Under a Tree
Nazareth was scorned by the Jews due to the Roman army that was stationed there. Nathanael's remark undoubtedly mirrored the public view.
Philip found Nathanael and said that they had found Jesus of Nazareth, the one Moses and the prophets had spoken of. When Nathanael heard that the Messiah was born in Nazareth, he was surprised. Luckily, Nathanael went to see Jesus. If he had acted on his prejudice, he would have missed the Messiah, but fortunately he met Jesus and became a disciple. We need to invite people to come and meet Jesus, regardless of their stereotypical thoughts about Him.
Jesus knew of Nathanael before physically meeting him. Jesus stated, 'behold an Israelite in whom there is no guile'. What is guile? According to the dictionary, guile is deceitful cunning. So, how can I say that Nathanael was under condemnation, but Jesus found him without. All were under condemnation under the old covenant. Christ came to bring the new covenant. Nathanael had questions but rose in faith as he proclaimed, “thou art the Son of God, King of Israel.”
Look at the number three here, which represents resurrection, divine completeness and perfection. First, there was cultivation; a sinner brought o Jesus by a believer (Philip took Nathanael to meet Jesus). It took a believer going out and compelling someone to come to Jesus. Second, there was a conversation between the sinner and Jesus. Next, Jesus saw Nathanael coming and before anything was said, He looked at Nathanael's heart. Nathanael asks how Jesus knows of him. Jesus had replied that He saw him under a fig tree and knew him.
Thirdly, there was a confession; “Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God.” Had he heard this from John the Baptist? Had he wrestled with this within himself? All we can see is that he realized who Christ was and believed.
One Man Up a Tree
Working for Righteousness
The Roman army charged high taxes on the people they conquered to pay for their empire. Jews defied these taxes since they endorsed a profane government and its pagan beings.
Jewish tax collectors were among the most disliked individuals since they decided to work for Rome and were viewed as double crossers. In addition, there was mutual understanding that the tax collectors made themselves rich by gouging their comrades.
Apparently by the crowd's reaction, they were disappointed in light of the fact that Jesus decided to go into the home of Zacchaeus, the tax collector. They were astonished by Jesus accepting the hospitality from a tax collector.
Despite the fact that Zacchaeus was a self-centered, money-minded, and deceitful man, Jesus loved him, and hence, Zacchaeus realized his life needed changing and he was converted. Zacchaeus demonstrated his inward change by his outward actions, he gave to the poor and paid back those he cheated. This attitude of concern for others and doing right was evidence that salvation had come. Zacchaeus showed his faith by his works. (James 2:18)
Jesus called Zacchaeus by name (John 10:3) and said that Zacchaeus was a son of Abraham, although he was lost. This undoubtedly surprised those who heard this. The people would not have liked to recognize this disagreeable tax collector as a kindred child of Abraham, and that a child of Abraham could be lost. An individual isn't spared by legacy or denounced by a terrible one. Faith is more important than someone's ancestral heritage.
Each society has individuals that are considered “distant” on account of their political perspectives, their indecent conduct, or their way of life. We ought not surrender to pressures that would shield us from contacting them. Jesus adores everybody, and everybody needs to hear His Word.
The Dying Thief
One Man on a Tree
Paid the Price
(Waited Until the Death Bed)
This man was about to die, and he obviously accepted the Lord was God's Son who
would return as judge to set up His Kingdom. This shows that faith, not works, saves us. Jesus had mercy on the thief that believed in Him.
The second thief asks the first thief to not solicit favors from the dying Jesus, however to rather “fear God,” valuing that His Son was partaking in their demises, but the power of God would revive, and return in glory to pass judgment on men and build up His Kingdom. Before Jesus was crucified, we were condemned. The repentant thief focuses on that “we are condemned justly” (Luke 23:41), for it was clear to all that here hung an innocent and righteous man.
Here was a deathbed conversion. Stories like this may make one wonder was the conversion real. We can never know someone's heart. We must look for outward evidence of a conversion.
We are all under condemnation prior to Jesus' death on the cross. Many will try to work for righteousness, and some may wait until their last moment of life to seek the Lord's forgiveness.
Jesus worked in unification with God the Father. This gives us affirmation of being accepted and preserved by Him. Jesus' motivation was to do the desire of God, not fulfilling human wants.
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