Cursing of the Fig Tree
A. Passage Selected: Mk. 11:12-26
B. Progression Stated: Logical
C. Presentation Summarized:
1. Context 11:12
This is the only miracle of destruction. It seems out of character of the mild mannered Jesus to be angry at a poor little tree at a time when it wasn’t time to bear figs?
The context is the key. It is part of a sandwich passage.
Cursing of fig tree
Link this back to Luke 13:1-9 parable of fig tree which taught that grace was extended before judgment to give a chance for the fruit of repentance. Now the year is up. Jesus is coming into Jerusalem looking for the fruit of repentance. If there is no fruit, what will happen to Jerusalem? It will be destroyed. If there are no figs on the tree, it will be destroyed.
Cleansing of Temple
The Problem in the Temple is the reason for the pronouncement against the fig tree.
The temple that should have been a house of prayer for all nations had been turned into a den of robbers. The Gentile plaza had been filled up with moneychangers so that there was no room for Gentiles to come worship. Matt 23 shows that they locked up the knowledge and didn’t allow anyone else to enter in. They didn’t live up to their own responsibility and caused others to lose out too.
Cursing of fig tree
Cf. Hos 9:10 - Israel as an image of the fig tree. Fruit in the first season?
Nah 3:12 - Israel as symbol of figs.
Zech 3:10 - Symbol of the blessing of the Kingdom when Israel will invite others to find shade under her fig tree.
2. Content 11:13-26
a. Cause (13)
(1) The desire
The reason for the curse is because he was looking for fruit. Luk 13:6-9
(2) The disaster
He found only leaves. Appearance of life but no fruit. It says it was not the season for figs, so why did he curse it? Cf. Hendriksen in his Matthew commentary. Budding precedes leafing. Small figs precedes the leaves, which precede the regular figs. He sees nothing but leaves. It is the small figs which guarantee the normal figs. If there are no early small figs, there will be no big figs. So he curses it.
b. Curse (14)
Why is he justified in cursing the tree? It is showing by its nature that it will be as it has been - i.e. unfruitful. If there is no bud, there will be no fruit. Why waste time waiting for the fruit?
c. Consequence (20-26)
(1) The response of Peter
Acknowledges that it happened. It is as if he was surprised.
(2) The response of Jesus
The disciples are going to have to have faith to understand what God is going to do to Jerusalem.
- The fig tree is Israel which will be judged for a lack of repentance. They have the pretension of life, but not the substance of life. Cf. Mark 7:6 Externals of appearance not matched by internal faith.
- To one who is given much is much required.
- Knowledge of their past was an indication of their future actions. And they did follow the same pattern. They ultimately said, “We have no other king but Caesar.”
- Profession does not equal possession.
- In light of the impending justice of God, I need to have faith - not only to exempt me from the judgment, but to believe that God is fair in his judgments. Trust God, He knows what He is doing.
- Judgment is justified in the absence of faith.
Jesus is also preparing them for what is coming - his death. They will undoubtedly have to deal with the attitude: How can I minister to those at whom I am so angry for killing my Lord. That is why he follows this with a discussion on forgiveness.
Related Topics: Miracles