Mark: According to
The Curse of the Fig Tree
12 Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. 13 And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 In response Jesus said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you every again.” And His disciples heard it.
The triumphal entry was upon the first day of the week, our modern-day Sunday. Then what is about to take place happened on the next day, the 2nd day of the week, our modern-day Monday. The prophets Jeremiah, Hosea and Nahum (Jeremiah 8:13; Hosea 9:10; and Nahum 3:12) associated the fig tree with the nation of Israel. It takes several years for the fig tree to mature enough to produce fruit and when it does, generally it produces two crops per year.
Mature plants or trees are from 10 to 30 feet in height so for Jesus to have cursed the fig tree it must have been of sufficient height to indicate that it was mature and should have by this time produced fruit. The fig tree requires a full eight hours of sunlight daily and by the time the leaves are fully developed generally the first crop is ripe and ready to be eaten.
So when Jesus upon leaving Bethany and saw from a distance a fig tree full of mature leaves, he supposed that there should have been fruit. However, upon closer examination, the fig tree was found to be completely barren of fruit.
Jesus instead of blessing the fig tree, does something unusual and curses the tree by saying “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again,” and His disciples heard it (Mark 11:14).
Jesus and his disciples continued the two mile journey from Bethany to Jerusalem as Mark records it. “So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 16 And he would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple. 17 Then he taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you have made it a den of thieves.” 18 and the scribes and chief priests heard it and sought how they might destroy Him; for they feared Him, because all the people were astonished at His teaching. 19 When evening had come, He went out of the city. 20 Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. 21 and Peter, remembering, said to him, Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.” 22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God.”
There is a lot going on in these passages but the story of the fig tree and the cleansing of the temple and the results of the cursing of the fig tree are all related. Israel as we discovered earlier is like a fig tree that has reached the age of maturity. Being mature, then Israel as a fig tree should be bearing fruit. When Jesus saw, went to and examined the tree he found it to be barren of fruit. And a tree that is supposed to bear fruit but fails takes away resources that could be better spent upon other trees that will or are bearing fruit already. Therefore, Jesus curses the tree.
John the Baptizer had begun the work of cutting down the tree that failed to yield fruit by crying out to the people to repent of their sins, and when Jesus came to be baptized, he point them to Christ as the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world. Soon after Jesus had cleansed the temple, but this cleansing had only been temporarily. Now after preaching, teaching and healing the people, working with the fig tree a while longer, he had come upon the fig tree and found it still barren and the temple back to its former ways. Because the worship of the people was empty, taken up by ritual and tradition and failed to focus on the true meaning of worship, the temple and its serves were desecrated. Mark by mentioning that Doves were being sold, implies that the whole system instead of being uplifting was instead a burden. The dove was to be the simplest of sacrifices that even the poor should be able to afford, but here the cost was great making salvation or repentance of sin not a matter for all, but supposedly only for the rich, who could buy their way to salvation. But this empty worship had caused the whole system, the whole nation of Israel to become like the fig tree that refused to bear fruit until Jesus had no choice but to reject them that had rejected Him. By withdrawing the blessing that had marked Israel as a special nation, the nation withered away.
Peter and the other disciples were dumb founded upon seeing that the fig tree had withered from the roots upward. The roots are the source of life for any plant and any plant that is not firmly rooted will soon wither and die.
Israel was not firmly rooted in the source of their power and thus by their own choice, they rejected the very source of their power. The blessing that had been theirs was removed. The tree that looked so promising, no longer being connected to the source of its nourishment, withered and died.
So, it is with us today who continually place traditions and man-made theology above the true teachings of the Scriptures that were inspired by Christ and written out by His faithful servants so that you and I can have an understanding of the special blessing that is available to all that faithfully follow God, through prayer and the study of His world.
These and only these will give us the strength to bear fruit for the kingdom of heaven. If we fail to sink our roots deeply into the life-giving soil of prayer and Bible study, then we too may look good on the outside, but our worship our inner self will be nothing more than a noisy market place and the tender plant that God has planted will wither and die a victim of their own doing fro choosing their own way instead of God’s way.
Therefore when Jesus crested the Mount of Olives and looked over Jerusalem and the temple, that he convulsed with tears streaming down his cheeks, because of His great love for Israel and the many prophets that had been sent to convey the message of hope and proclaim the soon coming Messiah. Only to have it rejected, dried up like the fig tree in which heaven removed its blessing from. This along with the temple, that was to be a house of prayer decimated by those more concerned with self-righteousness and greed than a desire to have a relationship with the creator of this world that Stood in their midst, teaching, healing and seeking a relationship with all he came in contact with, but alas, the time had come. The opportunity was lost the tree was withered from the roots up. All because they failed to establish a relationship with God and then bearing fruit.
Our concern, all our concern, is that we as Christians are in danger of doing the same today. As this year comes to a close, let us resolve to spend more time in prayer and the Word of God, so that our lives can be nourished and we bear fruit for out Saviour and Lord.