I often wondered why Jesus cursed the fig tree. It didn't make much sense that he would curse this tree just because it didn't have any digs on it and He was hungry. He had multiplied five loaves and two fish and fed more than 5000 people so the lack of food couldn't have been the problem.
Mark 11:20-25 GNT Early next morning, as they walked along the road, they saw the fig tree. It was dead all the way down to its roots. Peter remembered what had happened and said to Jesus, “Look, Teacher, the fig tree you cursed has died!” Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. I assure you that whoever tells this hill to get up and throw itself in 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: When you pray and ask for something, believe that you have received it, and you will be given whatever you ask for. And when you stand and pray, forgive anything you may have against anyone, so that your Father in heaven will forgive the wrongs you have done.”
The next day when the disciples noticed that the tree was dead Jesus started talking about faith. What's the connection between no gigs and faith?
I know that God's thoughts are higher than mine and His ways not my ways but this really confused me. Sometimes we overthink things and in doing that we change the real meaning and intention of an action or statement.
I teach that in order to understand scripture we must consider the context in which it was written. Looking at the context surrounding the cursing of the fig tree, it doesn't seem that food or faith was what Jesus was conveying to His disciples. To understand the point behind Jesus cursing the tree we need to look at the timing of the curse.
Jesus and His disciples had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. This was the visit that started with what we know as the Triumphant Entry.
Mark 11:7-11 GNT They brought the colt to Jesus, threw their cloaks over the animal, and Jesus got on. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches in the field and spread them on the road. The people who were in front and those who followed behind began to shout, “Praise God! God bless him who comes in the name of the Lord! God bless the coming kingdom of King David, our father! Praise be to God!” Jesus entered Jerusalem, went into the Temple, and looked around at everything. But since it was already late in the day, he went out to Bethany with the twelve disciples.
It was on their way back to Jerusalem, the next day that Jesus cursed the tree. Then they went into Jerusalem and to the Temple again. This time though Jesus "raised the roof".
Mark 11:15-17 GNT When they arrived in Jerusalem, Jesus went to the Temple and began to drive out all those who were buying and selling. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the stools of those who sold pigeons, and he would not let anyone carry anything through the Temple courtyards. He then taught the people: “It is written in the Scriptures that God said, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for the people of all nations.’ But you have turned it into a hideout for thieves!”
Then on their way back the disciples saw that the tree was dead. In response to their comments about the now dead tree Jesus gives what, to me, has always been a confusing response.
Mark 11:22-24 GNT Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. I assure you that whoever tells this hill to get up and throw itself in 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: When you pray and ask for something, believe that you have received it, and you will be given whatever you ask for.
Here is what I've learned.
Symbolism of the Cursed Fig Tree
First, in the Old Testament the fig tree often stood as a symbol for the nation of Israel.
Jeremiah 8:13 GNT “I wanted to gather my people, as a farmer gathers a harvest; but they are like a vine with no grapes, like a fig tree with no figs; even the leaves have withered. Therefore, I have allowed outsiders to take over the land.”
Hosea 9:10 GNT The Lord says, “When I first found Israel, it was like finding grapes growing in the desert. When I first saw your ancestors, it was like seeing the first ripe figs of the season. But when they came to Mount Peor, they began to worship Baal and soon became as disgusting as the gods they loved.
Second, we also need to re establish that the cursing of the fig tree happens on the day after the Triumphant Entry, four days before His crucifixion.
Third, this story is recorded next to the story of Jesus cleansing the temple in Jerusalem.
Matthew 21:12-13, 19 GNT Jesus went into the Temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the stools of those who sold pigeons, and said to them, “It is written in the Scriptures that God said, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer.’ But you are making it a hideout for thieves!” He saw a fig tree by the side of the road and went to it, but found nothing on it except leaves. So he said to the tree, “You will never again bear fruit!” At once the fig tree dried up.
The money changers had turned the Lord's house into a den of thieves. They were profiteers who exchanged foreign currency and also sold the animals that worshipers from out of town would buy to sacrifice. By shrewd marketing they could charge exorbitant rates and make a killing off the pilgrims who came to worship. The whole scene angered Jesus because he knew that the temple should be a house of prayer for all nations.
The Meaning of the Parable of the Fig TreeCursing the fig tree was Jesus's way of saying that the whole nation had become spiritually barren before the Lord. They had the form of religion but not the reality. They knew the right words to say, but their hearts were far from God.
Like this fig tree, the nation of Israel has a deceptive appearance. The people of this nation are in a covenant relationship with God, and they might outwardly appear to observe his Law. However, the nation as a whole has proved to be both lacking faith and barren of good fruitage. They even reject God’s own Son! Hence, by causing the unproductive fig tree to wither, Jesus demonstrates what the end will be for this fruitless, faithless nation.
Like the fig tree, the Jewish faith looked good on the outside, but despite its appearance it wasn’t producing any fruit. Because it wasn’t providing for his people, Jesus decreed that he would let it fade, and raise up something new in its place: the Church.