February 12, 2022
“The next day when they came out from Bethany, He was hungry. After seeing in the distance a fig tree with leaves, He went to find out if there was any fruit on it.”
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“The next day when they came out from Bethany, He was hungry. After seeing in the distance a fig tree with leaves, He went to find out if there was any fruit on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves because it was not the season for figs. He said to it, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again!’ and His disciples heard it.” Mark 11:12-14
“Early in the morning, as they were passing by, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up. Then Peter remembered and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed is withered.’” Mark 11:20-21
One of the most enigmatic passages in the New Testament is this episode where Jesus curses a fig tree. What makes the story so bizarre, for some people, is that the fig tree wasn’t even in season for bearing figs. For many years, I felt sorry for the fig tree, as if one could have remorse for a tree!
My opinion of today’s passage changed when I read Micah’s prophecy of this account. In my Bible, this passage is titled: Israel’s Moral Decline.
“How sad for me! For I am like one who – when the summer fruit has been gathered after the gleaning of the grape harvest – finds no grape cluster to eat, NO EARLY FIG (emphasis mine), which I crave. Godly people have vanished from the land; there is no one upright among the people. All of them wait in ambush to shed blood; they hunt each other with a net. Both hands are good at accomplishing evil: the official and the judge demand a bribe; when the powerful man communicates his desire, they plot it together. The best of them is like a brier; the most upright is worse than a hedge of thorns. The day of your watchmen, the day of your punishment is coming; at this time, their panic is here. Do not rely on a friend, don’t trust in a close companion. Seal your mouth from the woman who lies in your arms. For a son considers his father a fool, a daughter opposes her mother, and a daughter-in-law is against her mother-in-law; a person’s enemies are the people in his own home. But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.” Micah 7:1-7
When Jesus cursed the fig tree, He was, in effect, cursing what Jerusalem had become. As the fig tree withered, so Judaism in Jerusalem would soon wither and cease to produce fruit. Within a short time, the Romans would destroy the temple in 70AD. To this day, Temple worship is dried up! Notice how Micah’s prophecy chronicles the “behind the scenes” activity of Messiah’s last days, beginning with the cursing of the fig tree and leading up to His being ambushed, beaten, betrayed by close friends, and crucified…and ultimately His resurrection.