Bible Question:

Regarding Mark 11:13, it appears that it is unreasonable for Jesus to expect figs on the fig tree in and out of season. Why did Jesus curse the tree?

Bible Answer:

The passage that you refer to is,

On the next day, when they had left Bethany, He became hungry. Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His disciples were listening. (NASB) Mark 11:12-14

Mark’s historical account tells us that Jesus was hungry when they left Bethany and headed for Jerusalem. Along the way Jesus saw a fig tree. The time of year is the end of March A.D. 33. This event occurred in the last week of Jesus’ life just before His death.

Fig trees in Israel normally produce leaves and preliminary fig pods in March and the figs reach maturation in May or June. The larger figs occur in August to early fall. When Jesus saw this fig tree, there should have been leaves and fig shoots, but He observed that there were only leaves. The leaves presented the promise of future fig fruit, but the promise was hollow. Without the preliminary fig shoots, there would be no fruit. The tree appeared capable of producing fruit but it was a hollow promise. There was no fruit since it was not the season for fruit, but it should have had pods or shoots – the promise of fruit to come. So Jesus cursed the fig tree.

Conclusion:

The fig tree is like some who claim to be Christians. There is a claim to be genuine and there is a promise of future life, but the truth is that there is no life. Such people face God’s rebuke and condemnation just like the fig tree if they do not believe in Jesus. Submission and obedience to Him is the fruit of true belief (James 2:14-26).

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