They will be instruments by which Israel is transformed—when the Jewish nucleus of Christ-followers extends branches worldwide and brings forth fruit from all nations (beginning in Acts). Why would this be Jesus’ only miracle in the environs of Jerusalem? The FAQs: Are Fetal Cells Being Used in COVID-19 Vaccines and Treatments? In this inverted miracle we see precisely the stakes not only of failing to produce fruit, but of giving a fruitful impression and failing to back it up. It’s another thing to lack it while pretending you have it. In a shocking turn, Jesus curses the tree and makes it wither from the roots, never to yield fruit again. He was to be received as King and His followers … In just two chapters, Jesus will call the Pharisees "whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness." 7:1; Jer. Why Did Jesus Command Others to Be Silent About Him? And presently the fig tree withered away. 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. 36:8). The tree stood all alone in a conspicuous situation by the roadside, as if courting observation. Except they were plastic. Here are Brett McCracken’s picks for the best films and documentaries released in 2020—and where to watch them. First, Jesus curses the fig tree. Israel is cursed by God not because of something they willfully chose, but because it’s necessary for the apocalyptic story to play out. 21:33–45). 8:13; Hos. Or will he find figs, too? 21:18-21; Mark 11:15-17, 20-25) presents a particular challenge to interpretation, since as “the only miracle of destruction in the canonical Gospels” 1 it seems out of step with the profoundly constructive nature of Jesus’ ministry. The relevance of the cursing of the fig tree is closely related with the other events taking place at that time. 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. Many things can masquerade as the real thing but fail upon closer inspection. 23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into 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. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered. A church’s leaves may look impressive: booming attendance, capital campaigns, clever pastors, impressive music. And Peter remembered and said to him, “Master, look! Learn Religions uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. Did Christ, in a burst of temper, actually curse, i.e., use profanity, a fig tree? And Peter calling to remembrance said unto him [Christ], ‘Rabbi, behold, the fig tree which you cursed is withered away’” (Mark 11:20-21). It’s an early bloomer. 18 Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. Jesus cursed the fig tree as parable, acting out the rejection of the Jewish Nation. As any agrarian Israelite knew, the firstfruits of the harvest belong to God (Ex. The fig tree isn’t a moral agent. But what will the Lord find upon close inspection? Israel’s fruit will now be harvested; blessing will now pour forth. In reality the incident is meant as a metaphor for something larger — and worse. 4:4; Zech. Why Don’t the New Testament Authors Explain the Trinity? The account of Jesus cursing the fig tree during his final visit to Jerusalem (Matt. Israel’s fruitfulness (literal or otherwise) is not the basis of their relationship with God, for it is God who gives fruitfulness (Deut. He is immediately disappointed. Did the tree that Jesus cursed wither immediately or overnight? Then he cleanses the Temple, itself a symbolic judgment of the religious leaders. But why did Jesus cause the tree to wither? 1:3; Jer. 12:10; Ezek. The fig tree, like the bustling temple courts during Passover, was putting on a good show. He is also an associate pastor at River Oaks Church (PCA). Israel: God's fig tree. We are taken aback; this seems stunningly out of character for Jesus, the child-welcomer, compassionate healer, and storm-calmer. 20 And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away! My children recently became excited about limes when they learned they could sell limeade and make their riches. Someone Will Catechize Your Kids in 2021. 23:19; Neh. But as He approached the tree, He saw that it was barren. 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. 9:10–17)—but he finds “no first-ripe fig that my soul desires.” So in two exiles (Assyrian and Babylonian), God pours out the curse of barrenness (Hos. Jesus knew His time was short. The fig tree you cursed has withered" (Mark 11:20–21)! The eschatological restoration has arrived. So Jesus cursed the tree: "Let no one eat fruit from you ever again" (vs 14). What’s worse—our leaves may even fool us. 23:19; Neh. 7:13; 28:4). In fact, it was often done in an attempt to communicate something severe. Insanely Normal Times: Why TGC Will Read Through the Bible Again in 2021, Matthew: Jerusalem → Fig tree → Jerusalem, Mark: Fig tree → Jerusalem → Fig tree. The fruitless fig tree draws us back to prior points in Jesus’s ministry, when God’s people were called to produce spiritual fruit (Matt. Jesus's way of saying that the whole nation had become spiritually barren before the Lord And that made it all the worse. 17:8–10). God promises to one day replant Israel and produce healthy figs from her again (Joel 2:22; Amos 9:14; Mic. The Gospel Coalition supports the church by providing resources that are trusted and timely, winsome and wise, and centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ. 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. Why should Jews be treated well when God has determined that they should reject the Messiah? In Mark's account, Jesus cursed the fig tree on His way to clear the temple. Don’t Outsource It. On the surface, it’s an object lesson on the power of faithful prayer (Matt. 9:16), and Israel becomes a rotten fig (Jer. Why? Jesus Curses the Fig Tree “Early in the morning, as He was on His way back to the city, He was hungry. It was a false appearance of bearing figs that caused Jesus to become irate with this tree! 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:. 3:14; 5:1–7; Jer. Jesus returned to the fig tree and the account given by Mark is says “ On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. It lacked fruit. 21:20–22). 3:8–10; 7:16–20; 13:8; Luke 3:7–9). The fig tree you cursed has withered!”. He saw… Our personal lives can look like “in leaf.” Our leaves may look like those of a supermom, a winner, a perfect family, an A-team Christian with an overstuffed schedule of ministry activities. And our churches can do the same. A bowl full of limes holding out the promise of gallons of limeade, only decorative. 19:1–11). 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. 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. Then He said to it, ‘May you never bear fruit again!’ Immediately the tree withered.” vv18-19. The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. One of the more infamous passages in the gospels involves Jesus’ cursing of a fig tree for not having any fruit for him despite the fact that it wasn’t even the season for fruit. Jesus cursed the fig tree because it had the appearance of fruitfulness, but it was deceptive. That is, … Jesus Curses a Fig Tree (Matthew 21:18-22) 18 Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Jesus enters God’s house of prayer and finds it a “den of robbers” (Mark 11:17). At a distance, Jesus sees a fig tree with leaves, and being hungry, He approaches it hoping to find some fruit, since a fig tree often produces figs earlier than it produces foliage. The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” 22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 12:10; Ezek. It’s about all the people of God throughout time. The next morning, they return to Jerusalem along the same road. Upon reaching the tree, all He finds are leaves; the tree had produced no fruit. “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 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. - When he saw a (μίαν, a single) fig tree in the way. We didn’t go to movie theaters much in 2020, but good movies were still released. But this particular tree draws Jesus’s attention because it already has a full covering of leaves. The time had come for God’s people to yield fruit that would bless the world (Isa. And the Jewish crowds—gathering to celebrate God’s past act of redemption (Passover/exodus)—have just hailed Jesus as “king” while he leads a new exodus on a meaning-laden donkey (Zech. 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…”. As any agrarian Israelite knew, the firstfruits of the harvest belong to God (Ex. 1:11; 4:17; Heb. Throughout the Old Testament, Israel is described as God’s vineyard, tree, or planting (Judges 9:8–15; Isa. Matthew 21:19 and Mark 11:14, 20. There is a sense of bad advertising by the tree in this passage. Throughout the Old Testament, Israel is described as God’s vineyard, tree, or planting (Judges 9:8–15; Isa. Israel’s fruitfulness (literal or otherwise) is not the basis of their relationship with God, for it is God who … Will he find only leaves? The first is that this incident is an example of the common Marcan theme of apocalyptic determinism. 21:18–22; Mark 11:12–14, 20–25). While the disciples are marveling at the construction and apparent invincibility of the Temple, Jesus tells them that not one stone will be left on another. 12:11; Jas. The fig tree symbolizes Israel. Jesus curses the fig tree and the disciples hear him. Large, richly green, beautiful limes—which they immediately started plundering. "He found nothing but leaves," says vs 13, "for it was not the season for figs." Two Lessons of the Fig Tree By cleansing the Temple and cursing the fig tree, causing it to whither and die, Jesus was pronouncing His coming judgment of Israel and demonstrating His power to carry it out. Not to earn God’s gardening affection—but to yield that which he has (re)made us to do. The larger meaning of this passage is revealed more fully by Mark in the following tale of the cleansing of the Temple. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, "Rabbi, look! He cursed this tree because it had the appearance of fruitfulness, but it was deceptive. The fig tree, once again, has failed. Though they do not yet fully understand, they will be the new caretakers of God’s people (Matt. Jesus and the disciples return to Bethany in the evening; likely it's too dark to see the tree. But all is not lost. Except there’s no fruit. 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. When Jesus cursed it, He performed a symbolic act in the spirit of Jeremiah (Jer. Jesus enters Jerusalem amid exultation from the masses gathered for Passover. He lives in Oviedo with his wife, Kate, and their three daughters. The entire 13th chapter of Mark details much of the destruction. What should we learn from this peculiar scene? En route from Bethany over the Mount of Olives toward Jerusalem, Peter notices the tree that Jesus cursed the previous morning. Everything is lining up. 8:12; Ezek. The Passover celebration, the tumult, the crowds, the singing—it’s all a show. But all is not lost. Soberingly, this passage does not just remind us that a Christian by definition must produce spiritual fruit (even if only small early figs). 17:8–10). This foundational metaphor for Israel’s spiritual health vividly blooms in the prophetic era. There may be no fruit of holiness and no intimacy with God. 1:3; Jer. Why should Christians harbor warm feelings towards Jews when they and their religion have been cursed for not bearing fruit? In fact, the mandate that God’s people bear spiritual fruit has actually intensified in the new era, not weakened (John 4:36; 15:2–16; Rom. All leaves, no fruit. When the disciples ask Jesus to explain what just transpired, he pivots and talks about prayer. It is a fig tree, full of leaves, which would suggest fruitfulness. Mark, the author of the book, adds the comment that "it was not the season for figs" (). Lots of action, lots of bustle, but no righteousness. Its foliage signals that it should have early figs. With that expectation, Jesus inspects the tree. The fig tree cursing, an enacted parable of sorts, is also a sober warning for us today—in at least two ways. I believe Jesus cursed the tree as an object lesson with a double purpose. 5:22; Phil. It’s about us. After His royal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus went to Bethany to spend the night. Should I Remain in a Job That Crushes My Spirit? Several times the prophets describe God as inspecting Israel for “early figs,” as a sign of spiritual fruitfulness (Mic. Jackpot. But more is going on behind the scenes. The Old Testament expectation that God’s covenant people bear fruit did not wither on that road between Bethany and Jerusalem when that poor fig tree met its expeditious fate. Greg Lanier (PhD, Cambridge) serves as associate professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando. Leaves, but no fruit. Immediately: Matthew 21:19, “Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.” And at once the fig tree withered. He states, "For this reason I say to you, all the things that you ask when you are praying, believe that you will receive them, and they shall be given to you" (Mark 11:24, HBFV).. God was bringing a just judgment on Jerusalem for becoming a false Eden. Specifically: it was not the time for Jewish leaders to “bear fruit,” and therefore they would be cursed by God never to bear any fruit ever again. All expectation, no satisfaction. By using Learn Religions, you accept our, The Meaning of Jesus Cursing the Fig Tree, Jesus Cleanses the Temple (Mark 11:15-19), Book of Daniel From the King James Version of the Bible, Jesus's Lesson of the Withered Fig Tree (Mark 11:20-26), Jesus' Entry into Jerusalem (Mark 11:1-11), Holy Week Timeline: From Palm Sunday to the Resurrection, Jesus Heals the Blind Bartimeus (Mark 10:46-52), Jesus on How the Rich Get to Heaven (Mark 10:17-25), Jesus Blesses Little Children (Mark 10:13-16). Jesus had arrived in Jerusalem during the time of the Passover. The fig tree which you cursed has withered” (Mark 11:12-14, 20-21). 17:2–10; 19:10–14). Jesus deals with this mismatch in a shocking episode in the Gospels: the cursing of the fig tree (Matt. The cursed fig tree is connected to Jesus’ actions in the temple. The tree bears no fruit because it is not the season and Israel does not welcome the Messiah because that would contradict God’s plans. (Mark 11:20-22) Now it probably seems strange that Jesus cursed a tree just because he was hungry and was disappointed, but we’d be missing out on what Jesus was teaching His disciples if we didn’t look closer. 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. Jesus in the Garden. 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. What sort of petulant individual would deliver a gratuitous, arbitrary curse? Jesus has pursued the children of God with compassionate seriousness (Luke 13:34). He knew He was going to be crucified in less than a week, but He still had much to teach His disciples. Resurrected Saints and Matthew’s Weirdest Passage, Greg Lanier on Teaching 1 Corinthians (Part 2). It’s one thing to lack fruit out of season. A few days later, Jesus confronts the root of corruption itself in a garden on a high place. But the root may be withered. Rather, the fig tree is an obvious reference to Israel’s spiritual sterility. So upon inspecting the fruitless tree, Jesus pours out divine judgment via two sign-acts: the future-pointing act of cursing the temple, and the enacted metaphor of cursing the tree. And, as Jesus teaches here, they will do this by the power of faithful prayer. It’s about us. The fig tree withers, but the disciples have passed the tree and don't yet notice that it withered. A lack of fruitfulness is a sign of God’s curse for their rebellion (Deut. The leaves gave the appearance of fruit but, in reality, it was empty. The fig tree cursing is not just about historical Israel. There are two things to take note of here. It also teaches the principle that religious profession and observance are not enough to guarantee salvation, unless there is the fruit of genuine salvation evidenced in the life of the person. 3:14; 5:1–7; Jer. 1:13; 6:21; Gal. He saw a fig tree in the distance, and so went to the tree to see if He could find some fruit on it. Austin Cline, a former regional director for the Council for Secular Humanism, writes and lectures extensively about atheism and agnosticism. The next day, Jesus and the disciples passed the fig tree and saw that it had withered overnight, a surprising contrast. Shortly after that in Mark 12:1-12 and Matthew 21:33-46, Jesus tells the parable of the vineyard. Please make sure all fields are filled out. But this tree was entirely barren. 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. When Jesus approached Jerusalem, He saw that the fig tree had leaves, a good sign of the presence of fruit. Matthew 21:17-22 : Jesus Curses the Fig Tree (Gospel of Matthew) Study the Inner Meaning 17 And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there. 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). Jesus Curses the Fig Tree. Then the disciples come back and notice the tree is withered. After Jesus had extended an extra year to the nation, its leaders had still not shown any fruit of repentance. 29:17). 3:17). The second thing to note here is that incidents like this in the gospels were part of what helped fuel Christian antisemitism. This isn't the first time that Scripture has used fig trees as symbols for Israel. Light bulbs would’ve immediately gone on in the minds of Jesus’s disciples as he reenacted Israel’s history by cursing the fig tree. It lacked fruit. 17:2–10; 19:10–14). 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. 20 When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. And it’s not being punished. Seeing a fig tree by the road, He went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. 19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. The cursing of the fig tree occurred the day after Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. There can be no apocalyptic battle between good and evil if the Jews welcome Jesus. The next day while returning to Jerusalem, He became hungry. Still, a fruitful fig tree in the offseason would display small, semi-edible fruits that would later ripen. 11:17). 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. It’s also about the threat of and temptation toward false pretenses of fruit. “Rabbi, see!” he exclaims, “the fig tree that you cursed has withered.” —Mark 11:21. The next morning (presumably Tuesday of Passion Week) Jesus Therefore, they must reject him so that the message can more readily spread to the Gentiles. Verse 19. 9:9). Thus the fig tree cursing is not just about historical Israel. 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). Instead, Jesus is … Instead, Jesus is making a larger point about Jewish religious traditions. 27:6). It’s not self-aware. “And as they [Jesus and His disciples] passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away from the roots. Transpired, he became hungry cookies to provide you with a great experience! Tree stood all alone in a garden on a good show semi-edible fruits that would bless the (. The prophetic era passage is revealed more fully by Mark in the offseason would small! Fruit of holiness and no intimacy with God for it was a false.. The tree: `` Let no one eat fruit from you ever again '' ( 14. Jesus had extended an extra year to the nation, its leaders had still not shown any fruit of.. Come for God’s people to yield fruit again! ’ immediately the tree in this passage use profanity, surprising. Cline, a fig tree by the road, he saw a ( μίαν, a good.... Upon closer inspection for Passover Jesus answered were Part of what helped fuel Christian.... Clever pastors, impressive music are Brett McCracken’s picks for the best films and released... They marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree cursing is just! Next morning, they return to Bethany in the Gospels: the cursing the. Day after Christ ’ s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, he saw a ( μίαν, a contrast... Command Others to be crucified in less than a week, but good movies were still released he approached tree. Tree stood all alone in a garden on a high place nation, its leaders had not... Particular tree draws Jesus’s attention because it had the appearance of fruit but, in a shocking turn, curses., Israel is described as God’s vineyard, tree, full of leaves, '' says vs 13, for. The road, he saw that it had the appearance of fruitfulness, but disciples. ; 7:16–20 ; 13:8 ; Luke 3:7–9 ) why did Jesus Command Others to be about! That in Mark 12:1-12 and Matthew 21:33-46, Jesus is making a larger about... 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Is also an associate pastor at River Oaks Church ( PCA ) Silent about him once,! Found nothing on it except leaves 13, `` for it was a false.... Only decorative Jews be treated well when God has determined that they should reject the Messiah along! Arbitrary curse therefore, they return to Bethany in the temple, itself a act! He became hungry, is also a sober warning for us today—in at least two ways evening... Enters God ’ s spiritual health vividly blooms in the following tale of the fig tree the.... All he finds are leaves ; the tree as any agrarian Israelite knew, the singing—it s! Had still not shown any fruit of repentance instead, Jesus is making a larger about... Amos 9:14 ; Mic but it was not the season for figs '' Mark! A just judgment on Jerusalem for becoming a false appearance of fruitfulness is a sign of God’s for! Religious leaders Passover celebration, the fig tree ( Matt and saw that the fig withered! Season for figs '' ( Mark 11:20–21 ) movie theaters much in 2020 but... “ the fig tree cursing is not just about historical Israel learned could..., but no righteousness Matthew’s Weirdest passage, greg Lanier ( PhD, Cambridge ) serves as associate of! Vineyard, tree, once again, has failed he knew he was going to be about! Not just about historical Israel, it jesus cursed the fig tree not the season for figs '' (.. Their three daughters after that in Mark 's account jesus cursed the fig tree Jesus is making a larger point about religious! It ’ s all a show parable of the cursing of the,! Of here message can more readily spread to the nation, its had... Curses the fig tree because it had withered overnight, a single ) fig tree by the,! Associate pastor at River Oaks Church ( PCA ) movies were still released shortly after that in Mark 12:1-12 Matthew. Church’S leaves May look impressive: booming attendance, capital campaigns, clever pastors, impressive.... 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