Mark 11:12-14The next day, when they left Bethany, Jesus became hungry. In the distance he saw a fig tree with leaves. He went to see if he could find any figs on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves because it wasn’t the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “No one will ever eat fruit from you again!” His disciples heard this.
When I read this scripture section, it made me think of the Snickers candybar commercial where the person is “hangery” until he eats a Snickers, which changes him into a different person.
To set the scene here: this is the morning after his triumphant entry into Jerusalem. He had entered amid the crowd shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is our ancestor David’s kingdom that is coming! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Mark 11:9-10) He had gone straight to the (temple) courtyard, where he looked around at everything. Since it was already late, he went out with the twelve apostles to Bethany. (Mark 11:11)
Both his examining the temple courtyard and his cursing of the fig tree foreshadow what comes next. You’ll have to stay tuned ’till tomorrow to see what happens next.
For today let us concern ourselves with the story at hand. A hungry Jesus went to the Fig Tree expecting to find something to eat. The problem is as Mark states, it’s not the season for figs. So why would Jesus curse the tree when it had no figs before the time of figs? The answer can be found in the fact that the tree had leaves. Since it bore leaves, it should also have had what is called taqsh by the Arabs, a sort of fore-runner of the real figs. They drop off before the real fig is formed. But if the leaves appear unaccompanied by taqsh, there will be no figs that year. So it was evident to our Lord, that the absence of the taqsh meant that there would be no figs when the time of figs came.
So in the natural, we can understand how Jesus knew the tree to be barren. I believe that there is more to the story here. I believe that this is a visual parabel.
A barren fig tree is as useless as …
- A people who reject their savior (Luke 19:41-44)
- A professing Christian who has borne no fruit (Matthew 7:15-20, James 2:18)
Creator as you created each tree to bear fruit containing seeds of its own kind, you also expect your children to bear fruit by sharing the gosple to expand the kingdom. Lord, I want to be a tree well rooted by the river of life. Let the seeds in my fruit become trees that also bear fruit. Let those with whom I share the gosple also share the gosple. In Jesus name, amen.
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