So Jesus cursed the tree: "Let no one eat fruit from you ever again" (vs 14). We are taken aback; this seems stunningly out of character for Jesus, the child-welcomer, compassionate healer, and storm-calmer. 21:20–22). The next day while returning to Jerusalem, He became hungry. “And as they [Jesus and His disciples] passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away from the roots. 12:10; Ezek. The fig tree, once again, has failed. With this web of background images, light bulbs would’ve immediately gone on in the minds of Jesus’s disciples as he re-enacted Israel’s history by cursing the fig tree. The Passover celebration, the tumult, the crowds, the singing—it’s all a show. A lack of fruitfulness is a sign of God’s curse for their rebellion (Deut. 17:2–10; 19:10–14). Matthew the apostle wrote about Jesus, “in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered, and in chapter twenty-one and verse nineteen of his book, Matthew shares how Jesus did not see any fruit on a fig tree and said, “let no fruit grow on you henceforward for ever” where we read:. All leaves, no fruit. The fig tree symbolizes Israel. 3:14; 5:1–7; Jer. Or will he find figs, too? Then the disciples come back and notice the tree is withered. 7:1; Jer. A bowl full of limes holding out the promise of gallons of limeade, only decorative. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered. We didn’t go to movie theaters much in 2020, but good movies were still released. On the surface, it’s an object lesson on the power of faithful prayer (Matt. In the morning, as he travels from Bethany, he spots a fig tree “in leaf.” At this point in late spring, most fig trees haven’t developed mature fruit (Mark 11:13). The second meaning we can gleen from the fig tree being cursed is told to us by Jesus himself a few verses after his miracle is recorded. The Meaning of Jesus Cursing the Fig Tree. One day at my mother-in-law’s house, they found a large tray full of them. 21:33–45). The fig tree cursing is not just about historical Israel. Instead, Jesus is … It was a false appearance of bearing figs that caused Jesus to become irate with this tree! Someone Will Catechize Your Kids in 2021. Jackpot. But why did Jesus cause the tree to wither? Several times the prophets describe God as inspecting Israel for “early figs,” as a sign of spiritual fruitfulness (Mic. It is a fig tree, full of leaves, which would suggest fruitfulness. The larger meaning of this passage is revealed more fully by Mark in the following tale of the cleansing of the Temple. Learn Religions uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. It’s about us. But more is going on behind the scenes. 17:8–10). While the rest of the nations—the other fig trees—are not yet in season, this one tree is “in leaf.” And both Matthew and Mark, by “sandwiching” the fig tree episode, focus the lens on where it will all transpire: Jerusalem. The cursing of the fig tree occurred the day after Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Seeing a fig tree by the road, He went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. The fig tree you cursed has withered!”. What sort of petulant individual would deliver a gratuitous, arbitrary curse? Jesus deals with this mismatch in a shocking episode in the Gospels: the cursing of the fig tree (Matt. Copyright © 2021 The Gospel Coalition, INC. All Rights Reserved, Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases on Amazon.com.Â. Israel’s fruitfulness (literal or otherwise) is not the basis of their relationship with God, for it is God who … It’s another thing to lack it while pretending you have it. Please make sure all fields are filled out. When Jesus approached Jerusalem, He saw that the fig tree had leaves, a good sign of the presence of fruit. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown in the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. The fig tree, like the bustling temple courts during Passover, was putting on a good show. Instead, Jesus is making a larger point about Jewish religious traditions. When Jesus cursed it, He performed a symbolic act in the spirit of Jeremiah (Jer. 5:22; Phil. JESUS: THE DESIRE OF ALL THE AGES Part 64 - Cursing the Fig Tree By Larry Chambers The story for this column is found in Matthew 21:18-21; Mark 11:12-21. The next morning (presumably Tuesday of Passion Week) Jesus 20 And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away! It’s one thing to lack fruit out of season. Mark isn’t trying to tell his audience that Jesus was angered at not having figs to eat — this would be very strange, given that he would have known that it was far too early in the year for that. What’s worse—our leaves may even fool us. Rather, the fig tree is an obvious reference to Israel’s spiritual sterility. It’s an early bloomer. He knew He was going to be crucified in less than a week, but He still had much to teach His disciples. The entire 13th chapter of Mark details much of the destruction. That is, … The leaves gave the appearance of fruit but, in reality, it was empty. The cursing of the fig tree is an incident in the gospels, presented in Mark and Matthew as a miracle in connection with the entry into Jerusalem, and in Luke as a parable. Jesus cursed the fig tree because it had the appearance of fruitfulness, but it was deceptive. The fig tree cursing, an enacted parable of sorts, is also a sober warning for us today—in at least two ways. Mark, the author of the book, adds the comment that "it was not the season for figs" (). 1:3; Jer. Israel is to be cursed because it “bears no fruit” by not welcoming the Messiah — but clearly the tree here isn’t being given the choice to bear fruit or not. And Peter calling to remembrance said unto him [Christ], ‘Rabbi, behold, the fig tree which you cursed is withered away’” (Mark 11:20-21). My children recently became excited about limes when they learned they could sell limeade and make their riches. 23:19; Neh. The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. He was to be received as King and His followers … - When he saw a (μίαν, a single) fig tree in the way. This isn't the first time that Scripture has used fig trees as symbols for Israel. The time had come for God’s people to yield fruit that would bless the world (Isa. “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. Jesus has pursued the children of God with compassionate seriousness (Luke 13:34). Still, a fruitful fig tree in the offseason would display small, semi-edible fruits that would later ripen. 1:11; 4:17; Heb. "He found nothing but leaves," says vs 13, "for it was not the season for figs." The fig tree which you cursed has withered” (Mark 11:12-14, 20-21). Jesus Curses the Fig Tree. He cursed this tree because it had the appearance of fruitfulness, but it was deceptive. 1:13; 6:21; Gal. Why should Christians harbor warm feelings towards Jews when they and their religion have been cursed for not bearing fruit? But all is not lost. It lacked fruit. Greg Lanier (PhD, Cambridge) serves as associate professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando. The next day, Jesus and the disciples passed the fig tree and saw that it had withered overnight, a surprising contrast. 23:19; Neh. 18 Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. Jesus enters Jerusalem amid exultation from the masses gathered for Passover. 3:17). The first is that this incident is an example of the common Marcan theme of apocalyptic determinism. Resurrected Saints and Matthew’s Weirdest Passage, Greg Lanier on Teaching 1 Corinthians (Part 2). The FAQs: Are Fetal Cells Being Used in COVID-19 Vaccines and Treatments? He lives in Oviedo with his wife, Kate, and their three daughters. Jesus Curses the Barren Fig Tree by Damien F. Mackey “It has puzzled people for generations why Jesus was so upset with a fig tree that by nature should not have had figs or leaves…”. Insanely Normal Times: Why TGC Will Read Through the Bible Again in 2021, Matthew: Jerusalem → Fig tree → Jerusalem, Mark: Fig tree → Jerusalem → Fig tree. He saw a fig tree in the distance, and so went to the tree to see if He could find some fruit on it. 8:12; Ezek. 10:35–37), which helps conceptualize their relationship to God: as his own special planting, they must yield spiritual fruit as his covenant people (Ps. Israel is cursed by God not because of something they willfully chose, but because it’s necessary for the apocalyptic story to play out. The tree stood all alone in a conspicuous situation by the roadside, as if courting observation. Except they were plastic. Thus, instead of merely cursing and killing a lowly fig tree, Jesus is saying that Judaism itself is cursed and will die off — “dry up at the roots,” as a later passage explains when the disciples see the tree the next day (in Matthew, the tree dies immediately). This foundational metaphor for Israel’s spiritual health vividly blooms in the prophetic era. 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