Why did Jesus curse a fig tree?

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  • Why did Jesus curse a fig tree?

    The story is found in Mark 11: 12-25. Hungry whilst walking with the disciples Jesus comes across a fruitless fig tree and decides to curse the tree and move on. After some time the group pass the same tree and note that it had begun to wither. As there is no report of the tree blosoming and regaining fruit it is difficult to view this in the same light as miracles such as Lazarus, the feeding of the 5000 and turning water into wine. With this in mind what is the lesson to be learned from this encounter?

  • #2
    Christ was willing to make an example of the fig tree which bared not even one fig, not to the trees, but to the men, of that generation, and therefore cursed it with that curse which is the reverse of the first blessing, Be fruitful; he said unto it, Never let any man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever, Mark 11:14. Sweetness and good fruit are, in Jotham's parable, the honour of the fig-tree (Judges 9:11), and its serviceableness therein to man, preferable to the preferment of being promoted over the trees; now to be deprived of that, was a grievous curse. This was intended to be a type and figure of the doom passed upon the Jewish church, to which he came, seeking fruit, but found none (Luke 13:6, Luke 13:7); and though it was not, according to the doom in the parable, immediately cut down, yet, according to this in the history, blindness and hardness befell them (Romans 11:8, Rom_11:25), so that they were from henceforth good for nothing. The disciples heard what sentence Christ passed on this tree, and took notice of it. Woes from Christ's mouth are to be observed and kept in mind, as well as blessings. Matthew Henry
    Simply said, Jesus made an example of vengeance which hangs over the heads of hypocrites. The tree should of bared fruit but it had nothing but leaves.

    The church or the individual whose religion runs to leaf is useless to the world. What does the world care about the ceremonials and the externals of worship, and a painful orthodoxy, and the study of the letter of Scripture? Nothing. A useless church or a Christian, from whom no man gets any fruit to cool a thirsty, parched lip, is only fit for what comes after the barrenness, and that is, that every tree that bringeth ‘not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire.’ The churches of England, and we, as integral parts of these, have solemn duties lying upon us to-day; and if we cannot help our brethren, and feed and nourish the hungry and thirsty hearts and souls of mankind, then-then! the sooner we are plucked up and pitched over the vineyard wall, which is the fate of the barren vine, the better for the world and the better for the vineyard. - Maclaren
    God bless,
    William


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    • #3
      Jesus cursed the fig tree not long before He had witnessed the selling of animals for sacrifice and the changing of money, and I believe that it was intended as an object lesson.

      In Matthews account, Jesus went straight to the temple after entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, where He made note of those who were selling sacrificial animals and converting money from worshippers into currency acceptable to the temple treasury. Luke gives us an abbreviated version of the story, stating that the cleansing took place after Jesus entered the temple, but Luke doesn't speak of the fig tree at all. However, Mark's version of events states clearly that the visit to the temple didn't occur until after He had cursed the fig tree. Matthew doesn't speak of the fig tree until after he had told the story of the moneychangers, but Matthew often arranged his collections of the teachings of Jesus topically rather than chronologically. Once he introduces a theme, he tends to carry it through regardless of the chronological order.

      Matthew and Mark agree that as soon as Christ entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, He made His way to the temple, and that He entered the temple that Sunday. Mark says that this was in late afternoon and that after He had entered, He looked around at what was going on. Undoubtedly, He was disturbed by the commercialism that was taking place in the temple, just as He had been three years before when He chased the merchants out with a whip. In the earlier occasion, He accused them of turning God's house into a place of merchandise, rather than quoting Isaiah 56:7 as He did this Palm Sunday.

      In Mark's account, Jesus did nothing publicly to express His indignation on that Sunday afternoon. Instead, He returned to Bethany and spent the night there. Likely, He spent a portion of that night in prayer, seeking guidance from His Father on what He should do the following day. We don't know for sure, but it seems that Jesus may have encountered the barren fig tree on His way back to Jerusalem that Monday morning of the Holy Week, and that it served as an object lesson of the unfruitfulness of Israel as a nation and of the temple which, although it had all the trappings, was actually barren.

      The fig tree had produced foliage but without putting forth fruit which, in Israel's climate, normally came before the full foliage. Mark observes that it was not the regular season for figs, but this particular tree had gone into full foliage without developing any figs at all. It seems that Jesus used the rapid withering of the fig tree, before Monday was over, to teach His disciples that faithful prayer could accomplish much, and in this case, His prayer had been in the way of a judgement on that fig tree.

      Following his usual chronological account, Mark then goes on to say that Christ continued on to Jerusalem, where He entered the temple, where He expelled the moneychangers and sellers of sacrificial animals, saying "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations, says the Lord, but you have made it into a house of thieves."
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      • #4
        Originally posted by Ken Anderson View Post
        Jesus cursed the fig tree not long before He had witnessed the selling of animals for sacrifice and the changing of money, and I believe that it was intended as an object lesson.

        In Matthews account, Jesus went straight to the temple after entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, where He made note of those who were selling sacrificial animals and converting money from worshippers into currency acceptable to the temple treasury. Luke gives us an abbreviated version of the story, stating that the cleansing took place after Jesus entered the temple, but Luke doesn't speak of the fig tree at all. However, Mark's version of events states clearly that the visit to the temple didn't occur until after He had cursed the fig tree. Matthew doesn't speak of the fig tree until after he had told the story of the moneychangers, but Matthew often arranged his collections of the teachings of Jesus topically rather than chronologically. Once he introduces a theme, he tends to carry it through regardless of the chronological order.

        Matthew and Mark agree that as soon as Christ entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, He made His way to the temple, and that He entered the temple that Sunday. Mark says that this was in late afternoon and that after He had entered, He looked around at what was going on. Undoubtedly, He was disturbed by the commercialism that was taking place in the temple, just as He had been three years before when He chased the merchants out with a whip. In the earlier occasion, He accused them of turning God's house into a place of merchandise, rather than quoting Isaiah 56:7 as He did this Palm Sunday.

        In Mark's account, Jesus did nothing publicly to express His indignation on that Sunday afternoon. Instead, He returned to Bethany and spent the night there. Likely, He spent a portion of that night in prayer, seeking guidance from His Father on what He should do the following day. We don't know for sure, but it seems that Jesus may have encountered the barren fig tree on His way back to Jerusalem that Monday morning of the Holy Week, and that it served as an object lesson of the unfruitfulness of Israel as a nation and of the temple which, although it had all the trappings, was actually barren.

        The fig tree had produced foliage but without putting forth fruit which, in Israel's climate, normally came before the full foliage. Mark observes that it was not the regular season for figs, but this particular tree had gone into full foliage without developing any figs at all. It seems that Jesus used the rapid withering of the fig tree, before Monday was over, to teach His disciples that faithful prayer could accomplish much, and in this case, His prayer had been in the way of a judgement on that fig tree.

        Following his usual chronological account, Mark then goes on to say that Christ continued on to Jerusalem, where He entered the temple, where He expelled the moneychangers and sellers of sacrificial animals, saying "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations, says the Lord, but you have made it into a house of thieves."
        I'm trying to follow your logic here, Jesus cursed a fig tree in preparation for an unrelated action that would take place in the future in order to provide a lesson that would not be recorded in all four of the gospels.

        That just doesn't make rational sense and when you start to try and see things which are not there I feel you end up far away from a healthy location.
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        • #5
          Originally posted by PiousPete View Post
          That just doesn't make rational sense and when you start to try and see things which are not there I feel you end up far away from a healthy location.
          A lot of things God does don't make sense until we spend a lot of time thinking about them;


          Clyde Herrin's Blog
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          • #6
            Originally posted by PiousPete View Post
            I'm trying to follow your logic here, Jesus cursed a fig tree in preparation for an unrelated action that would take place in the future in order to provide a lesson that would not be recorded in all four of the gospels.
            If everything that was recorded in one of the four gospels were recorded in all four of the gospels, why would we need four of them? Since many of the words and deeds of Jesus are recorded in only one or two of the gospels, if your standard for something making sense is that it has to be recorded in all four of the gospels, I would think there wouldn't be very much there for you. As to your other point, as Jesus had already witnessed what was going on in the temple, He was returning to the temple on a mission, and I think He knew full well what He was going to do when he got there. Or do you believe that Jesus just sort of blundered into things and was surprised a lot? Out of curiosity, why do you think that Jesus cursed the fig tree? Not having studied botany, do you think He didn't realize that it wasn't the time of the year for figs? The passage is there for a reason and if we're afraid to read anything into it, then it's sort of pointless.
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