On the surface, this sounds like Jesus acting in an unreasonable way. Dare I say, hotheaded and petty.
And I have heard this preached in such a way that the preacher made excuses for Jesus’ action. In context, it’s days before Jesus goes to the cross. He has a lot on His mind and He took it out on the fig tree. This is fine and dandy, but to take it out on something, even a tree, when it’s not the tree’s fault, seems unreasonable. The Scripture tells us that figs weren’t in season, and Jesus is upset about no figs. That sounds like a personal problem. We all do this. I take things out on Diane when I am tired or upset about something else. But Jesus is not like me. If I cursed a fig tree days before I knew my crucifixion was coming, you would surely cut me some slack.
Chapter 11 starts with Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and in chapter 14 Jesus is being anointed for His burial, so the fig tree story happens just a few days before Jesus is crucified.
We know that Jesus was crucified on the day the Passover lambs were killed, and that is always the 14th day of the first month in the Biblical calendar. The first month has to start after but within 30 days of the Spring equinox. A round about way of saying that the fig tree story of Mark 11:13 occurred in early Spring.
When we hear it was not the season for figs, we do not understand what that means.
Fig trees in early Spring.
A productive fig tree of fruit bearing age, will always have both leaves and fruit at this time of the year. The fruit and leaves appear just about simultaneously, but some say the fruit actually comes first. Jesus was absolutely correct in walking over to the tree expecting to find fruit.
Fig trees were everywhere and could grow very large – 20 feet high and 20 feet wide – Nathaniel was under a fig tree when Jesus saw him.
So you understand, Jesus walks over expecting to find figs, but there were no figs on this tree and there were going to be none.
And He curses the fig tree. And Jesus performs His only destructive miracle in the Bible.
It beckons the question. Why is a fig tree called a fig tree? Because it produce figs. If it doesn’t produce figs, is it really a fig tree?
Scholars explain this parable in a nutshell this way:
Fig tree = Jews, the temple & Jewish priest’s tradition
Fruits = good deeds
He found the Temple as a place of hypocrisy and blasphemy. And by default, rebukes all of Israel.
John McArthur – He comes not as the King of Israel to call out Rome, but as the King of Righteousness to call out the temple.
The fig tree is a preview of the destruction by analogy and the second part is an assault on the temple by action.
They thought Jesus was going to condemn Rome, He ends up condemning Israel when he condemns the temple – the heart of Israel.
RC Sproul – It’s about Hypocrisy. – Jewish teachers would often use illustrations of worldly things to give Biblical lessons –
They are as one of my favorite sayings go – “All hat and no cattle.”
They talk the talk, but do not walk the walk.
The temple and priests and Jewish people have perverted their religion. They have been acting as if they can make it on their own righteousness. And they themselves were the righteous when the truth was they were scammers calling and telling you it’s your last chance at renewing your auto warranty.
The whole system is bankrupt – Luke 13 – vineyard fig tree – gonna cut it down – give it a little more time – the time is up.
Jesus goes in and declares the temple null and void – Not really a cleansing of the temple, but a cursing of the temple. And nobody could stop him. He does it to demonstrate His own holiness and as a warning to all who would follow.
I listened to Andrew Yang in an hour long interview with Tucker Carlson the other day – A successful organization almost always gets so large that it forgets its main purpose – the purpose that made it what it is – and the new focus and purpose becomes keeping the organization-conglomerate going. Andrew Yang was talking about the dysfunction of the United States government. It is pertinent to this story of the temple. It is perhaps pertinent to the UMC.
I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out. ~ John Wesley
The Lord found the Temple and Israel had lost their purpose. He found that the temple had become a place of hypocrisy and blasphemy and Jesus condemned it – figuratively in the fig tree and literally by his presence in the temple.
We are not responsible for the entirety of the UMC – It is so large and self serving that there is really nothing a little church in Short Gap can do about it. Many would argue that it has become what John Wesley warned about – that they have not held fast to the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out. Yet we are responsible for ourselves and our own doctrine.
Pastor friend – “What is it that scares you most about visiting a new church?” Expecting answers like “not knowing what to do or when to do it” “being in a strange place” “not knowing anyone” – I so wanted to write “bad theology”
You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Matthew 7:16-20
We must not misunderstand, the good works are an outpouring of proof of a relationship with God, and for the last 2,000 years, through Jesus.
I think it was Charles Spurgeon who said, “To a congregation who love you it is quite allowable to mention your grief that many of them are unsaved, and your vehement desire, and incessant prayer for their conversion. We must lift the curtain and let them see the future.”
David Platt – New Orleans.
The future for Wesley Chapel is going to hinge on 2022. Information about the state of the church and Wesley Chapels choices will be forthcoming.
I see the Scripture today as a story of the Israelites and the temple. And as a warning to the church and a warning even down to each individual Christian.
As for today – you have no control over anything but you – each of us have our own choice to make – From Joshua – Choose this day whom you will serve.
If you do not yet have faith in God – have faith in God this day.
If you have faith in God, then by all means, have faith in God.