Why did Jesus curse the fig tree?
QuestionAnswer The story of Jesus cursing the barren fig tree is told in two separate gospel accounts: Mark’s version and Luke’s account. It can first be observed in Matthew 21:18-22, and subsequently in Mark 11:12-14, among other places. When it comes to the two stories, there are some minor inconsistencies that may be resolved by carefully reading the relevant portions. The key to comprehending this verse, like with all Scripture, is to grasp the historical and cultural context in which it occurred.
For example, when did this occur, what was the environment, and where did it take place are all important questions.
Finally, we must have a fundamental grasp of the fig tree itself, including its growth seasons and other characteristics.
In the midst of Jewish people’s acclaim and worship, Jesus arrived in Jerusalem a day earlier.
Now, the next day, Jesus is once again on His journey to Jerusalem from Bethany, where He had been resting the night before.
While expecting to find something to eat under the fig tree, Jesus instead discovered that the tree was devoid of fruit, and he cursed the tree, saying, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” (Matthew 21:19; Mark 11:14; Luke 21:19.) This narrative of the cursing and withering of the fig tree is included in Matthew’s account of Jesus purifying the Temple of the moneychangers, which follows the account of Jesus cleansing the Temple of the moneychangers.
Mark says that event really took place over two days, with Jesus cursing the fig tree on the first day while on his way to cleanse the Temple, and the disciples noticing the tree withered on the second day while on their way back to Jerusalem from Bethany, as recorded in Mark (Mark 11:12-14 and Mark 11:19-20).
- After reviewing the story’s overall chronological context, we may begin to address some of the numerous concerns that are frequently posed about it in this section.
- This question may be answered by looking at the properties of fig trees, which can be found on the internet.
- Consequently, when Jesus and His followers noticed from a distance that the tree was bearing leaves, they would have assumed that the tree was also bearing fruit, despite the fact that it was later in the season than it was customarily the case for an unripe fig tree to develop fruit.
- Early crops would be harvested in the spring, with one or two later crops following after that.
- The fact that Jesus and His followers would be seeking for fruit on the fig tree even though it was not the major growing season further helps to explain their actions.
- If you’re wondering what this paragraph is all about or even what it means, the answer may be found in the chronological context of the passage as well as in a knowledge of how a fig tree is frequently used figuratively to symbolize Israel in the Bible.
- Both were significant in terms of the spiritual state of Israel.
- Symbolically, He was decrying Israel as a country, and in a way, He was decrying unproductive “Christians” as well (that is, people who profess to be Christian but have no evidence of a relationship with Christ).
- In the same way, the lack or death of a fig tree would represent rejection and judgment.
- When Jesus cleansed the Temple and cursed the fig tree, causing it to wither and die, He was announcing the impending judgment on Israel and proving His ability to carry it out.
- James would subsequently write that “faith without actions is dead,” which echoed this reality (James 2:26).
God condemns those who do not yield fruit, and He wants those who are in a relationship with Him to “bear abundant fruit” in their lives (John 15:5-8). Questions regarding Jesus Christ (return to top of page) What was it about the fig tree that caused Jesus to condemn it?
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Why Did Jesus Curse the Fig Tree?
My children recently grew enthusiastic about limes after learning that they could sell limeade and make a lot of money doing so. At my mother-in-house, law’s they discovered a huge tray piled high with them one day. They discovered a large, lushly green, magnificent lime tree, which they immediately began robbing. Jackpot. Except that they were made of plastic. A basin full of limes, holding up the promise of gallons of limeade, is only ornamental and serves no use. Many items can pass for the actual thing on the surface, but upon closer scrutiny, they are shown to be false.
21:18–22; Mark 11:12–14, 20–25) is a stunning scene in the Gospels in which Jesus deals with this mismatch of expectations.
Examining the Episode
The throngs of people assembled for Passover greeted Jesus as he entered Jerusalem with joy. As he drives out from Bethany in the morning, he comes upon a fig tree that is “in leaf.” The majority of fig trees have not yet produced full fruit at this stage in late April (Mark 11:13). However, this particular tree captures Jesus’ attention since it has a full covering of leaves at the time of his arrival. It’s a flower that blooms early. Its foliage indicates that tree will produce figs in the early summer.
- He is dissatisfied almost quickly.
- There is no satisfaction when there is just expectancy.
- We are taken aback; this appears to be completely out of character for Jesus, who is known for being a child-welcomer, a loving healer, and a storm-calming figure.
- On the surface, it appears to be a case study on the effectiveness of devout prayer (Matt.
- However, there is more going on behind the scenes.
1. Fruitlessness leads to judgment.
Over and over again in the Old Testament, Israel is referred to as God’s vineyard, tree, or planting (Judges 9:8–15; Isa. 3:14–7; Jer. 12:10; Ezek. 17:2–10; Ezek. 19:10–14). Because they are God’s special planting, they must bear spiritual fruit as his covenant people (Ps. 1:3; Jer. 17:8–10), as any agrarian Israelite was well aware (Ex. 23:19; Neh. 10:35–37). This helps conceptualize their relationship with God, as they are his covenant people and as his firstfruits of the harvest (Ex. 23:19; Neh.
- For Israel’s connection with God is not founded on their fruitfulness (whether physical or otherwise), but it is God who bestows fruitfulness on them (Deut.
- The absence of fruitfulness is a symbol of God’s punishment on them as a result of their transgression (Deut.
- This underlying image for Israel’s spiritual health comes to life in the prophetic era with a dazzling display of color.
- 7:1, Jer.
- 9:10–17), but he finds “no first-ripe fig that my soul wants” (Mic.
- 8:13, Hos.
The result is that God pours forth the curse of barrenness (Hosea 9:16) on Israel twice over the course of a thousand years (the Assyrian and the Babylonian exiles) (Jer.
However, everything is not lost.
In the imaginations of Jesus’ disciples, when he reenacted Israel’s history by cursing the fig tree, light lights would have immediately gone out.
3:8–10; 7:16–20; 13:8; Luke 3:7–9).
And the Jewish people, who have gathered to commemorate God’s work of redemption (Passover/exodus), have just proclaimed Jesus as “king” as he leads a new exodus on a donkey filled with symbolic significance (Zech.
The time has come for the eschatological restoration.
Israel’s fruit will now be gathered, and blessings will now gush forth from the land.
While the rest of the nations—the other fig trees—have not yet reached their peak season, thisonetree has already begun to bloom. Furthermore, both Matthew and Mark, by “sandwiching” the fig tree incident, direct the reader’s attention to the location where it will all take place: Jerusalem.
- Matthew’s sequence is Jerusalem Fig tree Jerusalem
- Mark’s sequence is Fig tree Jerusalem Fig tree
The only problem is that there is no fruit. Once again, the fig tree has failed miserably. Every aspect of the Passover celebration, from the turmoil to the people to the singing, is a stage production. After entering the house of prayer, Jesus discovers that it has been turned into a “den of thieves” (Mark 11:17). There is a lot of activity and a lot of hustle, but there is no righteousness. There are leaves, but no fruit. Because of this, after inspecting the unproductive tree, Jesus administers divine judgment by two sign-acts: the future-pointing act of cursing the temple, as well as the performed metaphor of cursing the tree.
2. Think about your own figs.
However, everything is not lost. When the disciples urge Jesus to explain what has just occurred, he shifts his focus and begins to speak about prayer. Why? They will be the new custodians of God’s people, even if they do not completely comprehend what this means (Matt. 21:33–45). Their role will be to assist in the transformation of Israel—when the Jewish nucleus of Christ-followers spreads branches throughout the world and bears fruit from all countries (beginning in Acts). According to Jesus’ teachings, people will be able to do this via the power of persistent prayer.
- It is all about us.
- The cursing of the fig tree is not limited to ancient Israel alone.
- When that sad fig tree met its untimely demise on the route between Bethany and Jerusalem, the Old Testament expectation that God’s covenant people give fruit did not wither as a result of its unfortunate fate.
- 1:11–41, Heb.
- Not in order to gain God’s personal favor, but in order to succumb to the tasks that he has (re)made us to perform.
- The threat of the temptation toward false pretenses of fruit are also addressed in the storyline.
- And that only exacerbated the situation.
- It’s one thing to be lacking in something while seeming to be possessing it.
- Our personal life might take on the appearance of being “in leaf.” It is possible that our leaves resemble those of a supermom, a winner, a perfect family, or an A-team Christian with a jam-packed calendar of missionary events.
- It is possible that there will be no evidence of holiness or relationship with God.
- And our churches have the ability to do the same.
The leaves of a church may seem spectacular: rising attendance, capital campaigns, intelligent pastors, and excellent music, to name a few examples. But what will the Lord discover when he conducts a thorough investigation? Will he come across onlyleaves? Or will he discover figs as well?
Why Did Jesus Curse the Fig Tree?
The gospels of Matthew and Mark each contain an intriguing (and puzzling) narrative about Jesus and a fig tree. A powerful lesson is conveyed by this narrative, even if it isn’t immediately evident. We need to delve a little deeper into the history of this narrative in order to fully comprehend its relevance. Jesus has just completed his victorious entry into Jerusalem, and He intends to cleanse the temple, which will cause His relationship with the Sanhedrin to deteriorate to the point where it cannot be repaired.
The tale of the fig tree is told in Matthew immediately following the purification of the temple, but Mark tells it in a different way.
The fig tree and the temple
Jesus was starving the next day as they were leaving Bethany, according to the Bible. He proceeded to investigate a fig tree in the distance, which he recognized as being in leaf. He discovered that it did not have any fruit. When he arrived, he discovered nothing but leaves, as it was the wrong time of year for figs. After that, he cursed the tree, saying, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” Mark 11:12–14 indicates that his disciples overheard him say that. Mark informs us that although it was not the season for figs, the tree’s leaves gave the impression that the tree will bear fruit in the future.
This question is addressed by Mark by incorporating the temple tale into the fig-tree story: When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, he entered the temple courtyards and immediately began ejecting individuals who were buying and selling goods there.
And as he was instructing them, he added, “Isn’t it stated, “My home will be considered a place of prayer for all nations?” However, you have turned it into a nest of robbers.'” When the leading priests and teachers of the law heard this, they immediately began seeking for a means to assassinate him because they feared him because the whole audience had been astonished by his teaching.
As soon as the subject of temple purification is brought up, our minds immediately jump to the phrase “den of thieves.” On the surface, it appears that Jesus was enraged because people were being abused financially by those who sold doves and exchanged money in the marketplace.
In less than an hour after Jesus left the premises, they would be back in business and selling again.
He is well aware that not only will temple practices not be reformed, but that the temple itself will be demolished as well.
“Do you see all of these things?” he inquired of her. “Truly, I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down” (Matthew 24:1–2), referring to the destruction of the Temple.
A den of robbers
Jeremiah 7 is quoted by Jesus during the cleansing of the temple. Throughout this text, Jeremiah calls into question the Israelite’s conception of the temple. Israelis had come to believe that the sacrificial system of the temple was sufficient to atone for all of their wrongdoing: “What makes you think you’ll be safe if you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, sacrifice to Baal and worship other gods you’ve never heard of, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, ‘We are safe’—safe to do all these abominable things?
- To what extent has this mansion, which carries my name, become a robber’s lair in your eyes?
- On the contrary, he is claiming that it is the location where the thieves go to avoid facing the repercussions of their criminal actions.
- Israel was using the entire sacrificial system to absolve itself of responsibility for behaviors that it had no intention of changing.
- After calling Abraham, the Lord promised him that he would become a large nation, and that he would be blessed.
It is said in Genesis 12:2–3 that “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you, I will curse,” and that “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” But rather than transforming the temple into a “house of prayer for all nations,” they had turned it into a haven where they might hide from God’s wrath and avoid his punishment for their sin.
The fig-tree tale is intended to help us appreciate the significance of the temple purification, and Mark wants us to do so.
He says: As they continued their journey in the morning, they saw that the fig tree had withered from the roots.
The fig tree you cursed has wilted and died as a result “(See also Mark 11:20–21)!
Israel: God’s fig tree
This isn’t the first time that fig trees have been used as symbols of Israel in the Scriptures. In fact, it was frequently done in an attempt to convey a serious message. As in the days of Gibeah, they have become deeply entangled in corruption. Because of their wickedness, God will punish them for their sins in the afterlife. When I discovered Israel, it was like discovering grapes in the desert; when I discovered your ancestors, it was like discovering the first figs on a fig tree in bloom.
God’s words to Hosea are strikingly similar to the events surrounding the fig tree.
And the prophet Jeremiah, whom Jesus quotes as He cleanses the temple, has this to say about God’s impending judgment: “I will take away their harvest,” declares the Lord, referring to the harvest of Israel.
On the tree, there will be no figs, and their leaves will begin to wither.
That which I have provided for them will be taken away from them ” (Jeremiah 8:13). It was as if Jeremiah’s words were being played out on a real fig tree, and the nation of Israel was being transformed into the kingdom of God, with His Spirit being poured out on everyone who came to Him.
It’s all about bearing fruit
Over and over again over the course of His mission, Jesus emphasized the value of being productive. And in order to accomplish so, He would utilize the example of fruitfulness to make his argument. The New Testament makes use of this image both collectively and individually. Following the purification of the temple, the Pharisees raise questions about Jesus’ authority. When they ask Him for an explanation, He answers by teaching them the Parable of the Tenants. According to this parable, Israel is portrayed by a vineyard whose tenants (representing Israel’s religious establishment) are negligent in their upkeep.
Jesus’ parable is summarized in the following words: “Therefore, I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and handed to a people who will bear its fruit” (Matthew 21:43).
God anticipates that the trees He planted will bear fruit.
The parable of the unfruitful fig tree
Jesus strengthens his point even further with a story about a guy and (believe it or not) his fig tree, which goes as follows: A parable was then given by him, which ran as follows: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and when he went to look for fruit on it, he found none. So he told the man who looked after the vineyard, ‘I’ve been coming here for three years now, looking for fruit on this fig tree, but I haven’t found any.’ Cut it down to size! ‘What is the point of using up the soil?'” Mr.
- If it yields fruit the next year, that’s great!
- The landowner is a guy of great patience.
- It has depleted the nutrition available and diverted the attention of the caregiver.
- What’s the point of wasting dirt on a tree that will never yield fruit?
- He will pay particular care to the tree and provide it with one more opportunity to bear fruit in the future.
- The entire narrative emphasizes the fact that God expects a particular level of fruitfulness from his people.
- He will, at some point, pass judgment, and that is exactly what will happen in the case of Israel.
Minding our fruitfulness
The prospect of fruitfulness is not exclusive to Israel alone, though. Furthermore, Jesus wants His disciples to yield fruit as well. He explains this to the disciples in one of His final conversations with them before the crucifixion: “I am the genuine vine, and my Father is the gardener,” He says. His pruning technique involves cutting off every branch in me that does not give fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit is pruned in order for it to bear even more fruit in the future. Because of the word I have spoken to you, you are already free of impurities.
- No branch can yield fruit on its own; it must be attached to the vine in order to do so.
- In this analogy, Jesus’ disciples are fruit-bearing branches (verses 1–4).
- Meanwhile, the Father is hard at work, pruning us in order for us to bear even more fruit in the future.
- In the absence of your remaining in me, you are like a branch that has been cast aside and withered; such branches are taken up and put into the fire, where they are burnt.
- This is for the glory of my Father, that you yield abundant fruit, demonstrating yourselves to be my followers (John 15:5–8).
Afterwards, He reiterates the lesson learned from the fig tree: branches that are unable to yield fruit are pruned away. In the end, fruitfulness is critical since it is the only way we can demonstrate that we are true followers of the Master.
The emphasis Jesus chooses
As we’ve seen, the disciples take notice of the withering of the tree that Jesus cursed. Instead of explaining why or expanding on the object lesson, Jesus just tells them: “Have trust in God,” Jesus said. “To tell the truth, I promise you that if anybody says to this mountain, ‘Go, hurl yourself into the sea,’ and does not have any doubts in their hearts, but believes that what they say will happen, then it will be done for that person. In order to ensure that you receive anything you ask for in prayer, I tell you to think that you have received it, and it will become yours.
Jesus urges them to have extravagant faith, pray daring prayers, and practice brave forgiveness.
As Jesus was fond of pointing out, the fruit of a tree may reveal a great deal about the tree itself.
Why Did Jesus Curse the Fig Tree?
Jesus was hungry early in the morning as he returned to the city, and he was on his way back. He approached a fig tree by the side of the road and discovered nothing but leaves on its branches. Then he cursed it, saying, “May you never produce fruit again!” The tree perished very immediately (Matthew 21:18-19). Fig trees are grown for the purpose of producing figs. It’s actually not that complicated. The reason we plant apple trees is because we desire apples; we plant peach trees for the same reason; we put orange trees for the same reason; and we plant fig trees for the same reason.
It’s probably best if you just trim it down.
What gave Jesus the knowledge that the fig tree was barren?
When you observe a fig tree with lots of foliage but no fruit, it means that the tree is fruitless.
Symbolism and Context of the Cursed Fig Tree
Three observations will aid us in comprehending this story:
- First and foremost, the fig tree was frequently shown as a symbol of the country of Israel in the Old Testament (Jeremiah 8:13
- Hosea 9:10). Second, we must keep in mind that the curse of the fig tree takes place on the Monday of Jesus’ Passion Week, four days before his crucifixion
- This is important to remember. This event is put next to the story of Jesus purifying the temple in Jerusalem, which is the third point of comparison (Matthew 21:12-17). A den of thieves had been established in the Lord’s home by the money lenders. Profiteers, they traded foreign currencies and sold the animals that devotees from faraway towns would purchase to offer up in sacrifice before the Lord. They could charge extravagant charges and make a mint off the pilgrims who came to pray if they used clever marketing techniques. Our Lord was enraged by the entire event because he understood that the temple was to be a home of prayer for people from all over the world.
The Meaning of the Parable of the Fig Tree
Cursing the fig tree was Jesus’ manner of expressing his displeasure at the state of the nation’s spiritual condition before the Lord. They have the appearance of religion, but not the substance of it. They had the appropriate words to speak, but their hearts were distant from God, as was their situation.
Another Bible Passage About the Parable of the Fig Tree
When two separate stories of the same story are compared and contrasted, readers have the benefit of multiple points of view and information. Before we come to Jesus cleansing the temple courts, we read the parable of the fig tree in Mark’s narrative (Mark 11: 12-14). While Matthew’s narrative is correct, the chronological chronology of the events is incorrect. “Jesus was hungry the next day as they were leaving Bethany.” He proceeded to investigate a fig tree in the distance, which he recognized as being in leaf.
He discovered that it did not have any fruit. When he arrived, he discovered nothing but leaves, as it was the wrong time of year for figs. After that, he cursed the tree, saying, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” “It was spoken by him, and his followers heard it.” (See Mark 11:12-14.)
Cultural Importance of Fig Trees
For example, according to Smith’s Bible Dictionary, the fig tree was quite widespread in the area both throughout Biblical times and even now. And it was common knowledge in Jesus’ day that if you saw leaves on a fig tree, you might anticipate fruit to come from it unless the tree was barren, as was the case in this case. Sitting beneath one’s own fig tree was a popular expression in the Bible (1 Kings 4:25; Micah 4:4; Zechariah 3:10), and it was a symbol of peace and prosperity throughout the ages.
courtesy of Thinkstock/Valentyn Volkov
Why Did Jesus Curse the Fig Tree?
Towards the beginning of Mark 11, Jesus walks to a fig tree to take a bite of fruit. The fig tree, on the other hand, has not produced any fruit, prompting him to curse it. Then, once he has finished cleaning up the temple, Peter notices that the cursed fig tree has shriveled and died. But why did Jesus curse the fig tree in the first place? The Revised Expositor’s Bible Commentary, edited by Walter W. Wessel and Mark L. Strauss, included an analysis of this text. They have some valuable insights to give, and we’ve included an extract from one of them below.
It is in this passage that we get the second portion of the tale of the fig tree (11:12–14), which is sandwiched between the description of the purification of the temple. (See Overview,11:15–19 for further information on the theological importance of this “intercalation.”)
SCRIPTURE: MARK 11:20-25
As they continued their journey in the morning, they saw that the fig tree had withered from the roots. “Rabbi, take a look!” Peter remembered and spoke to Jesus. “The fig tree you cursed has wilted,” says the witch. In response, Jesus said, “Have trust in God.” In all seriousness, I promise you that if somebody says to this mountain, ‘Go hurl yourself into the sea,’ and does not have any doubts in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. In order to ensure that you receive anything you ask for in prayer, I tell you to think that you have received it, and it will become yours.
COMMENTARY ON WHY JESUS CURSED THE FIG TREE
On their way back to Jerusalem from Bethany the following morning (probably on Tuesday of Passion Week), Jesus and his disciples passed the fig tree for the second time. It had been completely demolished (“withered from the roots”). Because of Jesus’ prediction that no one would ever eat fruit from the tree again (v.14), Peter directed Jesus’ attention to the withered tree, reminding him of what Jesus had said (v.21). Despite the fact that Jesus does not expressly interpret the incident, the implication appears to be clear: Jesus’ foretold judgment on the temple will come to pass just as assuredly as his forecast that the fig tree will wither.
The cursing of the fig tree is only mentioned by Matthew after the temple has been cleansed, and the tree withers “at once” once it has been cursed (Mt 21:19). Those discrepancies are consistent with his inclination to condense and shorten incidents (cf. Mt 8:5–13; 9:18–26).
This has been brought to our attention: the curse of the fig tree is closely tied to Jesus’ cleansing of the temple, with both serving as symbols of God’s punishment against Israel. Yet, strangely, Jesus does not make this relationship obvious in his teachings. The power of faith and prayer, on the other hand, is what Jesus is alluding to in this line and the subsequent teaching. The presence of this feature has led some commentators to conclude that the sayings ofvv.22–25have no historical connection with what has gone before and that Mark (or the tradition before him) has added them because Mark (or the tradition before him) misunderstood the symbolic significance of the fig tree’s destruction.
The event with the fig tree is used by Jesus to convey important lessons about faith and praying.
In order for us to believe, he must be our object of faith.
While this phrase may be unique, it is most likely not since (1) the somber “I tell you the truth” is never followed by a conditional clause, and (2) the introductory “if” is most likely derived through assimilation of the phrase inLuke 17.6.
As with Jesus’ earlier announcements, this one is preceded with the somber introduction line “I tell you the truth” as a manner of emphasizing the significance of what he is about to say. Because Jesus was standing on the Mount of Olives, from where a clear view of the Dead Sea may be obtained on a clear day, it is possible that he was referring to that particular peak. Without a doubt, the idea of tossing a mountain into the sea is a metaphor for something that is physically impossible to accomplish (Zec 4:7).
In Matthew 17:20, a comparable metaphor of the ability of faith to move mountains is depicted in the parable of the mustard seed (cf.Lk 17:6).
A direct relationship exists between the sort of faith that Jesus is speaking of here and the practice of prayer. As E. Stauffer (New Testament Theology, 169) points out, “the ‘faith’ of Mark 11:23f. is a faith that prays. Prayer is the source of its force, and the means of its strength — God’s omnipotence is its solitary certainty, and God’s sovereignty is its only constraint.” (New Testament Theology, 169) In other places, Jesus confirms the limitless capacity of prayer to bring about desired consequences (Mt 7:7;18:19;Lk 11:9).
To be sure, the change between verses 24 and 25 is jarring (withv.24speaking of faith,v.25of forgiveness). Nevertheless, there is a relationship. Prayer, in order to be successful, must be offered in confidence – faith in the all-powerful God, who is capable of doing miracles. However, it must be provided in the spirit of reconciliation. Efficient prayer requires two conditions: faith in the power of God and a willingness to forgive.
Possibly because of the rapid change in subject matter, or perhaps because Matthew had supplied a comparable statement in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 6:14), which comes directly after the Lord’s Prayer, Matthew omits this line.
This passage does not appear in the New International Version (NIV) or most other modern translations since it is not found in the finest and most ancient manuscripts of the New Testament. It is an addition from Matthew 6:15 into the text.
EXPOSITOR’S BIBLE COMMENTARY – REVISED
An updated version of the Expositor’s Bible Commentary was issued by Zondervan in 2012. The work of 56 different authors – 30 of whom are new to the series – is included in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary – Revised Series. EBC-R is a collection of the greatest work by world-class researchers, including D. A. Carson, George Guthrie, John Walton, and Andreas Köstenberger, that is both scholarly and accessible. There are thirteen volumes in this series. Take a look inside the Expositor’s Bible Commentary or choose which version is most appropriate for you by clicking here.
The Mighty Miracles Of Jesus: The Withering Fig Tree
As part of His mission, Jesus accomplished more than 40 miracles, which included healing ill people, transforming natural components of nature, and even resurrecting people from the dead, among other things. Generally speaking, a miracle is defined as an occurrence that occurs outside of the realm of normalcy. Every month, we’ll take a deeper look at one of His miracles to see how He accomplished it. Understanding Jesus’ miracles has the potential to transform your life, and it all begins with trusting in Him via confidence in Him.
- This was followed by His returning with his followers the following morning.
- He approached a fig tree by the side of the road and discovered nothing but leaves on its branches.
- However, there is more to this story than meets the eye.
- Christ used it as a real object lesson in order to illustrate the hypocrisy of the religious establishment.
- If you saw fig leaves on a fig tree, you may expect to see fruit on the tree as well.
- The fig tree was revered as a symbol of the country of Israel in the ancient world, according to the Bible.
- Similarly, many individuals nowadays say the correct things but do not act in accordance with their words.
- While they exhibited all of the symptoms of spiritual life, none of its fruits could be found.
- Faith, love, and sanctity are not present in churches with big congregations or political influence, even if they claim to be.
- With the help of that fig tree on the road to Jerusalem, we now have a very clear picture of what God wants of His children.
Living a life of hypocrisy means that we are only concerned with the leaves and not the fruit. When the Lord looks at His church and the lives of His followers, he is seeking for fruit. “Therefore, you will recognize them by their fruits,” says Matthew 7:20.
Leading Myself and Building My Team
Since it is “the only miracle of destruction in the canonical Gospels,”1 the account of Jesus cursing the fig tree during his final visit to Jerusalem (Matt. 21:18-21; Mark 11:15-17, 20-25) presents a particularly difficult challenge to interpreters, because it appears to be at odds with the profoundly constructive nature of Jesus’ ministry. Matthew relates that the curse and immediate withering of the tree took place on the day after Jesus made his “triumphant entry” into Jerusalem and “cleansed” the temple, which would put it on the Monday of our “Holy Week,” according to the Gospel of Matthew.
- On Monday, as he was coming to Jerusalem from Bethany, where he had spent the previous night, he approached a fig tree and took a bite out of it.
- He continued his journey into Jerusalem, where he “cleaned” the temple before returning to Bethany in the evening.
- Peter attracted Jesus’ attention to it when they were travelling back to Jerusalem.
- Since the first decades of the church, the perceived severity of Jesus has served as the primary inspiration for the remarks of the interpreters.
- It is frequently stated that Mark expected his fig-savvy readers would understand that Jesus was pursuing the edible green knops of spring rather than the ripe figs of summer;3 but, this does not explain why the tree, which was devoid of even the knops, should have been cursed.
- This makes it appear as though Jesus was cursing the fig tree in order to understand it in light of his attitude toward the temple, and maybe to interpret it as well as he was denouncing it.
- 4 As previously stated, his narration of the tale over the course of two days differs from Matthew’s version.
Thus, the question arises as to upon whom or what the judgment is to be pronounced.
Sanders argued, Jesus’ “cursing” of the temple in general and everything it represented was a more accurate interpretation of the “cleaning” of the temple than the traditional view.
Not everyone is convinced of this, however, because Jesus’ attitude toward the temple in other places is benign (for instance, in v.
However, it appears that his disturbance at the temple itself was centered on specific recently-initiated activities—buying and selling, and “carrying vessels” in ways that were evidently inappropriate—rather than on old temple ceremonies (11:15, 16).
It may now be conceivable to talk of a developing consensus among scholars that the curse of the fig tree served as the most severe possible warning to Israel’s religious leadership.
But Jesus here performs an act of extraordinary power, one that lingers in the mind of his disciples.
6When Peter queries Jesus about it, it is the sheer strength of the deed that Jesus remarks on, not its intended meaning.
And his next words go further.
It is a relatively private demonstration, witnessed only by the disciples, but it is sufficient to the purpose of testifying to them that Jesus’ message has already transcended the temple system (as the Last Supper would also testify, and as his death and resurrection would particularly establish) (as the Last Supper would also testify, and as his death and resurrection would particularly establish).
- It may be that a symbolic or prophetic act must always have the nature not only of a message but of a demonstration as well.
- 4:4-8) or the broken yoke of Jeremiah and the subsequent breaking of life itself (Jer.
- Jesus did not rely solely on miraculous power to commend his message; he also manifested godly insight, godly wisdom, and godly love.
- —Theopulos1 James R.
- Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), p.
- 2 See the comments of the 4th century writer Ephrem the Syrian, in Thomas C.
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), pp.
5 Adelle Yarbro Collins reviews the recent debate, inMark: A Commentary (Hermeneia.
Philadephia: Fortress, 2007) pp. 523-25. That she and Edwards—a non-conservative and a conservative—agree on this matter is one pointer to an emerging consensus. 6 In Oden, ed., p. 159. 7 T. W. Manson, “The Cleansing of the Temple” (Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, vol. 3), p. 279.
He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs
When asked “why did Jesus condemn the fig tree when it wasn’t fig season,” people frequently respond, “because figs weren’t in season.” Isn’t that a little strange how that came to be? Is it possible that Jesus killed the fig tree even though it was producing in a perfectly normal manner? What is the rationale behind this scathing condemnation of a helpless oak tree? Regarding the fig tree, the author Fred T Wright writes the following about it in his book, Manners and Customs of Bible Lands.
However, when Jesus and His followers came across this fig tree on the Mount of Olives, they were told that “the time of figs had not yet come,” according to Mark 11:13.
The display of leaves was analogous to a large number of persons appearing to have fruit that was not actually present.
Consequently, Christ cursed the fig tree as an example to all of humanity to avoid being hypocritical.” The fig tree is mentioned in the Henry Morris Study Bible, which says, “The Palestinian fig tree generally produces both leaves and tiny figs in early March, thus this tree should have yielded figs in addition to its leaves.” According to the Bible, Israel was frequently represented by a fig tree, as in Isaiah 34:4, Jeremiah 24:1-8, Hosea 9:10, and Luke 13:6-9.” During the narrative of the fig tree, Matthew Henry offers a thought-provoking observation.
- A second reason Jesus cursed the fig tree, according to Henry, was so that it would not continue to deceive people by spreading its leaves as if to suggest, “Now is the season for figs,” while in fact the tree had no fruit to give.
- Another point that is frequently asked is why the tale in Mark appears to contradict the account in Matthew.
- It appears that there was a 24-hour period between the time Jesus cursed the fig tree and the time Peter said that the tree had been dried up from the root in Mark’s narrative.
- Mark opted to film Peter’s statement the day after it was cursed since by that time, the plant had completely dried up from the root.
- The narrative in Mark would obviously give the impression that it was a miracle.
- As a result, the sap will stop being pushed to the top of the tree and will begin to collect in the trunk and base of the tree, causing the bark to darken.
- God is still at work doing miracles today; He has the ability to transform a rebel into a servant of Christ.
- What is His plan for dealing with people like you and me?
- ¯¯¯ Lyndon Stimeling, a resident of Richfield, has been writing about faith and family for a number of decades.
- He has written and published three books, the most recent of which being “Common Thoughts on The Word II” in 2019.
He has also had essays published in The Coming Home Journal and other local publications, and he has authored a children’s book, which has been published in the United Kingdom. Delivered directly to your inbox: today’s breaking news and more.
Why Did Jesus Curse the Fig Tree?
Written by Noel Goetz Have you ever pondered why Jesus cursed the fig tree in Mark Chapter 11? It’s a good question. The reality is that I really didn’t comprehend the subtle but crucial lesson Jesus was imparting until I started propagating and growing fig trees, and now that I understand the background of the tale, as well as a little bit about fig trees, I want to share it with you. The story begins the day after Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on what we call “Palm Sunday,” only a few days before Jesus would be killed, and continues until the end of the story.
- He observed the buying, selling, and merchandising – the grave sin of the priests, who were benefiting and taking advantage of pilgrims who were faithfully coming to celebrate Passover in their homes and communities.
- He proceeded to investigate a fig tree in the distance, which he recognized as being in leaf.
- When he arrived, he discovered nothing but leaves, as it was the wrong time of year for figs.
- As they continued their journey in the morning, they saw that the fig tree had withered from the roots.
- “The fig tree you cursed has wilted,” says the witch.
The significance of the Breba crop
Did you know that many fig trees produce more than one harvest in a season? There is something known as a ‘Breba’ crop, sometimes known as a ‘out of season’ crop in today’s world. A mature branch of the previous year’s wood produces the Breba crop, which is in contrast to the main crop of figs, which grows on the new, green wood of the current season. Even though the Breba harvest is modest in number, it frequently delivers the largest and most delicious figs, at a time when no other tree is anywhere near ripening fruit.
As a result, the people had been without fresh fruit for the whole winter and were looking forward to the arrival of these ‘Breba’ figs, so of course Jesus fully and correctly anticipated that the tree would naturally produce early fruit on ‘a mature branch.’ But, isn’t there always more to the tale, don’t you think?
It was a fig tree that failed to fulfill the benefits for which it was intended. Indeed, Israel’s’mature branches’ included the priests, rabbis, Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, and others who served as the nation’s top leaders.
Created to bear good fruit
He expected to see religious leaders handing out spiritual fruit to the hungry travelers who had gone to the Passover celebration in order to find nourishment the day before. Instead, he saw a crowd of people who were not expecting to see him. They had come to the temple hoping to be fed, but instead were met with dissatisfaction. Those ordered (made) to feed them the good things of God seemed to them as early leaves, promising fruit while in fact they were utterly devoid of any such produce.
- Jesus was delivering a prophetic as well as a practical warning to his disciples: If you are made to yield excellent fruit, but you are rebellious and refuse to bear fruit, you will be condemned by the Creator.
- (Matthew 11:14) When the Jews rose up in revolt against Rome in 70 AD (less than a decade later), the temple was completely demolished.
- The temple was subsequently dismantled block by block in order to retrieve the gold that adorned the temple.
- In the absence of your remaining in me, you are like a branch that has been cast aside and withered; such branches are taken up, ‘thrown into the fire, and burnt.’ (See also John 15:5–6) In our world, there are a great number of people who are hungry for the things of God.
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