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Cursing the Fig Tree

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Scripture Reference:

Mark 11:12-14, 20-26;

See also Matthew 21:18-22

Key Verse:

Mark 11:22 (NET)

“Jesus said to them, ‘Have faith in God…’”

1. Read the Passage:

Read Mark 11:12-25 in the NET Bible or in the translation of your choice.

Dig deeper:

If time allows, see also Matthew 21:18-22.

2. Observe the actions and attitudes of Jesus:

In the space below, write down all that you observe about Christ. For example, what did Jesus do? What did He say? To whom was He speaking to?

The Bible tells us that Jesus was hungry and saw a fig tree with leaves. When He reached for figs, he found that there were none. Mark tells us it was not the season for figs.

Ask: If it was not fig season, why do you think Jesus cursed the tree?

3. Understand the culture:

“Mark informs his readers that it was not the season for figs. Passover always comes in March or April, and fig season is not until May or June. However, fig trees generally produce a number of buds in March, leaves in April, and ripe fruit later on. Jesus was looking for the edible buds, the lack of which indicated that the tree would be fruitless that year.”i

Consider now how in Scripture, the fig tree is often symbolic for the nation of Israel. Jesus never wasted an opportunity to teach something spiritually while acting physically. If this fig tree represents the nation of Israel, what spiritual lesson can we draw from it?

The nation of Israel had the leaves of ‘profession’; they had the pretention of being fruitful when in fact they were not producing any real spiritual fruit. In other words, they were doing and saying the ‘religious’ things, but in their heart, they did not believe in Jesus. They refused to accept that Jesus was the promised Savoir.

4. Observe the response of the Disciples:

In the space below, jot down some of the responses of the disciples.

    • v. 14 tells us the disciples heard Jesus curse the tree

    • v. 21 tells us Peter remembered what they saw and mentioned it to Jesus

Peter sounded almost surprised when he says: “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!” What was Jesus response to Peter?

“’Have faith in God,’ Jesus answered.” This was a lesson for the disciples in the importance of faith. Remember, Jesus knew

His time on earth was coming to an end and that He only had a few more days with His disciples. The point Jesus was trying to get across was that dependent trust in God can accomplish humanly impossible things through prayer.

Dig deeper:

Verse 23-25 read as follow (NET): “I tell you the truth if someone says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. For this reason I tell you, whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your sins.”

Discuss what Jesus might have meant in these verses.

God is the source of all change. Moving a mountain is sometimes symbolic of doing something humanly impossible. Jesus was teaching His disciples that with faith, they can accomplish what appears to be impossible (see Philippians 4:13). Does this mean if we ask for anything, God will give it to us? What do you think? Ask yourself: “Is what I am praying for part of God’s will for my life?” If so, then you can be confident that God will answer your prayers. God does not desire to withhold from us, quite the contrary. Yet He knows what is best for us thus when He withholds anything from us, it is always for our own good. We can trust Him with that!

5. Your Response:

What can we learn from today’s passage?

    1. Jesus wants us to have faith in God. He wants us to trust Him for all our needs and to believe He has our best interests at heart. He wants us to boldly ask for what we need in prayer knowing that God will answer us and meet our needs.

    2. Jesus also warns us against pretending we are something we are not. If we are indeed going to call ourselves ‘Christians’, followers of Christ, then we should live our lives as such.

What is your response?

    1. Is there something in your life that you are not trusting God with? Confess your lack of faith to God and ask Him to grow your faith. Then turn your needs over to God and watch for Him as He works out His will in your life.

    2. Are you calling yourself a Christian? Are you living like one? Calling yourself a Christian and not living like one brings disgrace to Jesus. Surely you do not desire to defame the name of Christ. If you struggle with behavior that might not be honoring to God, find help. Find someone who can pray with you and help keep you accountable. Ask God for the strength and courage to live your life in a way that honors Him.

Pray with your family…

    • Thank God for the gift of His word (the Bible) from which we can learn more about Him and about His expectations for us.

    • Ask God to help you as you seek to grow your faith in Him.

6. Family Activity

Family Creed

The apostle’s creed was an early statement of Christian belief. In it, the apostle’s agreed to belief in specific things about God and about Christ. It included belief in God as Father Almighty and the Maker of heaven and earth. It also included belief in Jesus as God’s only Son, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of Mary, a virgin at the time of His birth. It also included belief in the crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of Christ.

Your activity today is to write out your Family Creed. On the leaves included as part of these activity sheets, have each family member write down one or more things you believe about God or Jesus (one item per leaf). Attach your ‘leaves of profession’ to your Family Tree (also one of the activity sheets). Discuss how important it is for your life to match what you believe. Display your family creed this week as a reminder of what you believe.

Related Topics: Easter, Children