The Realm of God Is Like a Carnivorous Plant
John Edgerton
August 8, 2023

From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 
~Matthew 24:32-33

I have upsetting fig tree news for you. Many fruits (such as apples) are happily pollinated just by being brushed against by the fuzzy little bodies of bees. But the fig tree is different. Turns out that fig trees are sort of, kind of, just a little bit, carnivorous. A wasp lands on a fig tree flower and gets trapped in the sticky nectar. The flower then sort of folds itself inside out and proceeds to…digest the wasp. Every juicy and delicious fig begins its life as one unfortunate wasp.

Enjoy those Fig Newtons everyone!

While it makes me like figs a little bit less, this horticultural tidbit makes me like Jesus’ parable a whole lot more. Because it reminds me that Jesus’ return will come with a cost. It’s easy for me to think of Jesus’ return as an uncomplicated good. A peaceable realm! An end to sorrow and sighing! Sign me up!

But the sweetness of the realm of God is not like the sweetness of an apple. It’s like the sweetness of the fig. The realm of God comes from swallowing things up, from transforming a stinging nuisance into sustenance for the hungry.

I wonder what parts of me would be swallowed up in the Realm of God.

Haughtiness? Right into the goo.

Despair? That’ll be flower food. 

I’ll happily be rid of those parts of myself. But perhaps I will have to be rid of parts of myself I’m proud of, like my intellect. Perhaps entry into the Realm of God will cost me much. A fig tree is a provocative image, one that makes me wonder where I fit in all this. It makes me look inward and consider how I might best live into God’s plan for me. 
In other words, it’s a great parable.

Prayer: God, thank you for the lesson of the fig. Even if it is gross.