“If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you. “Luke 17:6 KJV
In Luke 17:1-6, Jesus taught His disciples about bitterness and unforgiveness and about how to remove these evil forces from one’s life. As an illustration, Jesus likened these forces to the sycamine tree that was so well known in that part of the world. The word “sycamine” comes from the Greek word sukaminos, and it is the Greek word that refers to a tree that grew throughout the Middle East.
When you understand everything that is connected to the sycamine tree, you’ll know exactly why Jesus chose to use this tree as an example of bitterness and unforgiveness in Luke 17:6. In that verse, Jesus told His disciples, “…If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.” Notice that Jesus said, “…Ye might say unto this sycamine tree…” The word “this” indicates that Jesus was pointing out something very specific to them.
Was there a particular reason why He didn’t use an oak tree, an apple tree, or a palm tree in this illustration? Why did He use the sycamine tree to symbolize the detrimental effects of bitterness and unforgiveness in a person’s life?
As you look at the characteristics of the sycamine tree listed below, I believe you will comprehend why Jesus used this particular tree in this context.
The sycamine tree had a very large and deep root structure.
The sycamine tree was known to have one of the deepest root structures of all trees in the Middle East. It was a vigorous and robust tree that grew to a height of thirty feet or more. Because its roots went down so deep into the earth, it was very difficult to kill. Hot weather and blistering temperatures had little effect on this tree because it was tapped into a water source down deep under the earth. Even cutting it to its base would not guarantee its death because its roots, hidden deep under the ground, would draw from underground sources of water, enabling it to keep resurfacing again and again. In other words, this tree was very difficult to eradicate.
No wonder Jesus used this tree as an example of bitterness and unforgiveness! Like the sycamine tree, bitterness and unforgiveness must be dealt with clear to the roots, or they will keep springing up again and again. The roots of bitterness and unforgiveness go down deep into the human soul, fed by any offense that lies hidden in the soil of the heart. That hidden source of offense will cause these evil forces to resurface in a person’s life over and over again. It will take a serious decision for that person to rip those roots of bitterness and offense out of his heart once and for all so they can’t grow back in the future.
The sycamine tree produced a fig that was very bitter to eat.
The sycamine tree and the mulberry tree were very similar in appearance; the two trees even produced a fruit that looked identical. However, the fruit of the sycamine tree was extremely bitter. Its fruit looked just as luscious and delicious as a mulberry fig. But when a person tasted the fruit of the sycamine fig, he discovered that it was horribly bitter.
Jesus lets us know that like the sycamine fruit, the fruit of bitterness and unforgiveness is bitter, tart, and pungent. Like the fig, most people who are bitter and filled with unforgiveness chew on their feelings for a long time. They nibble on bitterness for a while; then they pause to digest what they’ve eaten. After they have reflected deeply on their offense, they return to the memory table to start nibbling on bitterness again – taking one little bite, then another little bite, then another. As they continue to think and meditate on their offense, they internalize their bitter feelings toward those who have offended them. In the end, their perpetual nibbling on the poisonous fruit of bitterness makes them bitter, sour people themselves.
So what is your desire today, friend? Do you genuinely wish to be free from the bitterness, unforgiveness, and offense that has festered in your soul for so long? Are you ready to rip those destructive roots clear out of your heart so they won’t be able to resurface in your life again? You can start the pruning process today, and begin a new fresh life and view with Him !
Prayer: Lord, thank You for speaking to my heart about getting rid of bitterness, unforgiveness, and offense. I know from experience that these attitudes are a killer to my spiritual life. When I am filled with bitterness and unforgiveness, I become a sour hostage to my memories. When I am consumed with offense, I lose my joy and peace and my relationships with other people are horribly affected. I thank You for giving me all the faith I need to deal with this issue, Lord. Today I am asking You to help me start the process of ripping those foul roots out of the soil of my heart and soul.I pray this in Jesus’ name!