When Fruit Goes Bad
Luke 6:43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.
Jesus was providing instructions for those around him, helping them understand the growth necessary for their spiritual lives. Growth would not come on its own, but growth would come from the place in which they were grounded. No matter how hard one tried to bear good fruit, it wouldn’t happen if not from a good tree.
The Greek word used here for “bad” is also translated “corrupt.” The Early Church Fathers would often talk about lost humanity as being corrupted humanity. God had created humans in his image and likeness but then sin entered into the world, creating a state of corruption within humanity. Jesus came to bring healing to our corrupted state. In that case, Jesus is saying that the corrupted flesh, that which has been made ill by the presence of sin, will ultimately only be able to produce corrupted fruit. The world will only be able to produce a corrupted vision or response.
Jesus’ entire life was one of healing. Simply arriving in human flesh he began healing the corruption by everything that he touched. From the moment of his birth until his resurrection he was setting aright and healing the corruption that had been growing in an infectious way since the sin of Adam and Eve.
Those who continued living in the corrupted state — in the bad tree — would bear corrupted fruit. At the same time, those who were united with Christ would experience complete and total healing which would result in good fruit.
One of my favorite fruits this time of year would be the Clementine. I love buying a bag of them and enjoying one anytime I want to grab one. They are so easy to peel and are generally juicy and satisfying to eat. However, if you’re not careful there can be a bad piece of fruit in the bag. There is that one that will grow mushy and moldy, often overnight. If I’m not careful this bad piece of fruit will suddenly seem to infect all of the good fruit that is around it. At the first hint of one of the Clementines going bad I have to remove it and throw it away. I don’t try to eat around the bad stuff - -it’s not worth it. It would be far too dangerous to try and find something good in it, instead it is tossed so that it won’t infect the rest of the bag. That piece of fruit is no longer useful.
God’s intention is for us to be united with Christ and in doing so to be transformed into producing his healthy fruit. His healthy fruit will look like him, act like him and taste like him! There will be no corruption or “bad” in his fruit.
Unfortunately, like my Clementines, there are those that go bad. The original corruption of humanity happened when good fruit went bad. (Oddly, by eating fruit!) We are challenged as God’s children to remain connected to the good tree. This is the tree that continually gives us life, feeds us and forms us. When we remain connected to Christ, then we produce his fruit.
The world has expectations of what the Church should be like — because they really do expect the Church to look like Christ. There is an innate understanding that Christ's fruit will be like Christ. If our good fruit has gone bad, it could be because we have choked ourselves off from the source of life. We may no longer be connected to the tree and we are going bad. We may be like the bad Clementine, infecting the other good fruit around us.
The good fruit of the religious leaders had gone bad. They weren’t producing genuine lovers of God. They were producing corrupted individuals who were leading people astray. Jesus knew it. Others knew it.
Don’t let your fruit go bad. Remain connected to the source and don’t let corrupted fruit infected your way of thinking.
Lord, please help me be connected to you in all I do this day Amen.