Monday: Jesus cursed the fig tree

Odd, I don’t recall this being presented to my childhood Sunday School class…

Holy week has days with significance. Yesterday we celebrated Palm Sunday, the day when Jesus entered the holy city on a donkey. The scriptures were fulfilled in this act, and the people also recognized the symbolism of a conquering king parading through the city. After all, this is what they were praising Jesus for. He was coming to remove the biggest enemy of the people!

Zechariah 9:9
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

You will recall that he did go after the biggest enemy immediately as He walked into the outer courts of the temple and violently removed the money changers. The biggest enemy of the people of Israel wasn’t the Romans. It was their own sin and that sin was revealed in the extortion of each other in the very place meant to bring worship from Israel to the entire world. The money changers were set up in the outer courts. The outer courts were as far as a woman or a foreigner could come. By repurposing this area into money changing and price gouging, they had to first restrict the access to the rest of the world. The same world that was to be blessed by the offspring of Abraham.

That was Sunday. Today is Monday. This is the day when Jesus walked up to a fig tree and looked to see if any fruit was available for Him. I’ve heard some say that the figs weren’t in season at that time and others have said that there are multiple seasons for figs. All of that is background noise. The annual cycle of a fruit tree isn’t the point.

2 Timothy 4:1-2
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

When Jesus walked along a field on the Sabbath and gathered some grain He was accused of violating the Sabbath by working. For one day a week the grain was considered to be out of season. But the mission of Israel was never to be out of season. Abraham was never “off the clock” and neither was his progeny. The mission to bless the whole world was always there. That is why Jonah was sent to Ninevah, to spread the news of God even to hated enemies. Some enemies were devoted to destruction, but all of the others were the mission field, at least that was the idea. Along the way Israel looked inward so much that they cut off the women and the foreigners from worship so they could cash in on a holy festival. The tables were set up in the outer court, after all. That is as far as the “less important” people could come.

Trees have been present for all of the momentous occasions in the Bible. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Tree of Life. Jesus was hung on a tree. There will be trees in Heaven giving their fruit for the healing of the nations. Trees and gardens are found throughout, contrasted by wildernesses, seas and dry places without water. The imagery is important and can often grant insight to what the message being conveyed actually is.

Hosea 9:10
Like grapes in the wilderness,
    I found Israel.
Like the first fruit on the fig tree
    in its first season,
    I saw your fathers.
But they came to Baal-peor
    and consecrated themselves to the thing of shame,
    and became detestable like the thing they loved.

Israel has been compared to a fig tree in the Old Testament. The symbolism of a fig tree that won’t produce fruit wasn’t lost on the early readers, far more familiar with those writings. I don’t say this to our shame so much, but as an encouragement for us all to read our Bibles, especially the Old Testament! So much that you read in the New will be enriched with the connections you make!

The fig tree symbolized the nation of Israel. The fields were white for harvest all around them (John 4:35), but they couldn’t be bothered to gather up worshipers for God. Not only that, but they were working actively against their charter to be a blessing to the nations! (Matthew 23:15) They were not innocent bystanders at all! They were doing the will of their father, the Devil. And if you don’t like that kind of talk coming from me, just remember who said this first. I’ll even point you to John 8:44 for that reference.

The people were more barren than the fig tree. More barren than Sarah had been until the Lord intervened. When the master came to the fields all he saw was lazy servants, wicked men who were only fit to be cast into outer darkness. These same people were the tenants that Jesus spoke of. You remember, the ones who beat the servants sent by the owner of the field. So the owner sent his son and the tenants killed him for his share of the inheritance. This is all found in Matthew 21, by the way. Nothing is out of place or out of context. There are no random parables sprinkled around. The people of Israel were about to kill the son sent to examine the crops.

Matthew 21:43
Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.

This is the lesson of the fig tree. God had endured these people for thousands of years. He had married them and empowered them to be His representative all across the planet. They not only failed to do this, they worked against this mission. They rejected the cornerstone of Jesus and sought to build their own kingdom with a different reference point.

Representatives of this same people were the earliest converts to Christianity. Other representatives were the most vicious opponents to the working of God. The divorce of God and Israel happened long before Jesus in the hearts of the people. They were staying together in the same way that a couple today will stay together “until the kids graduate.” The withering of the fig tree shows the internal rot that was apparent to all who would take notice in the same way that a child can sense that their parents are no longer honoring their covenant. The closing of the divorce proceedings happened within that generation, as the temple was dismembered, no one brick still resting on the one beneath it.

Jesus is King. Jesus is Lord. There is no such thing as a Messianic Jew. There are only Christians and then there are those among the mission field. Any further grey areas are just ways of sowing confusion. You are perfectly blessed in Jesus (Eph 1) or you are without hope. There is no middle ground.

Jeremiah 8:13
When I would gather them, declares the Lord,
    there are no grapes on the vine,
    nor figs on the fig tree;
even the leaves are withered,
    and what I gave them has passed away from them.
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Published by CoffeeSwirls