The Fig Tree

“From a distance Jesus saw a fig tree covered with leaves, and he went to see if there were any figs on the tree. But there were not any, because it wasn’t the season for figs.” (Mark 11:13)

Jesus obviously must have known that it wasn’t season for figs. He had after all lived His entire life in this region. Despite this He was looking for fruit on a tree that couldn’t bear figs at this time of the year. Why? The only sensible explanation is that He is trying to make a point. The next verse says:

“So Jesus said to the tree, “Never again will anyone eat fruit from this tree!” The disciples heard him say this.” (v. 14)

And verse 20 says: “As the disciples walked past the fig tree the next morning, they noticed that it was completely dried up, roots and all.”

In this story the tree represents the law and the old covenant. The law is righteous and good. Therefore the fig tree is covered with leaves. However, the law produces fruit upon death.  It has never produced any fruit in man which is sweet and good. It wasn’t season for figs because Jesus hadn’t finished His work yet. The Spirit hadn’t come to produce His fruit. The fruit of the Spirit isn’t based on man’s efforts. It is an out flowing of life due to the exchanged life in man when Christ replaces the prince of the power of the air who is at work in those who are disobedient, that is, those who haven’t accepted Jesus. Christ in us produces fruit that lasts.

The withered tree represents the law and the prophets. An old system was to be declared obsolete and a new system/covenant was to be established. Grace would replace law. The old system has withered. It is dead and lifeless, and holds no appeal whatsoever for those who have tasted the new wine.

When Peter the day after saw the withered tree Jesus told his disciples: “Have faith in God!” (11:22) What is impossible for man (become righteous by works) is possible for God (who made man righteous without works). Verse 22 might also be translated as having the same faith as God. God’s faith declares man righteous in Christ Jesus.

Jesus initially examined the tree because He was hungry. He yearned to see God’s magnificent will established among man. He longed for the day when He could gather His beloved ones in the Father’s bosom. He desired to see mankind redeemed and reconciled with God bearing the fruit of the new life.

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2 Responses to The Fig Tree

  1. Kristin Smith says:

    I was curious about the fig tree and did a Google search and found this:
    Having reviewed the general chronological setting of the story, we can begin to answer some of many questions that are often asked of it. First of all is the question, Why did Jesus curse the fig tree if it was not the right season for figs? The answer to this question can be determined by studying the characteristics of fig trees. The fruit of the fig tree generally appears before the leaves, and, because the fruit is green it blends in with the leaves right up until it is almost ripe. Therefore, when Jesus and His disciples saw from a distance that the tree had leaves, they would have expected it to also have fruit on it even though it was earlier in the season than what would be normal for a fig tree to be bearing fruit. Also, each tree would often produce two to three crops of figs each season. There would be an early crop in the spring followed by one or two later crops. In some parts of Israel, depending on climate and conditions, it was also possible that a tree might produce fruit ten out of twelve months. This also explains why Jesus and His disciples would be looking for fruit on the fig tree even if it was not in the main growing season. The fact that the tree already had leaves on it even though it was at a higher elevation around Jerusalem, and therefore would have been outside the normal season for figs, would have seemed to be a good indication that there would also be fruit on it.

    • Ole Henrik says:

      Very interesting indeed! I originally wrote this piece a year ago. I have expanded a bit on it here. I had just read it and couldn’t quite figure out the passage, so I asked God if He could explain this for me. He answered me immediately. I remember it so clearly because it was like a lamp was lit in my mind. I wrote down those thoughts that came to me. I also remember how encouraged I was after I received this which I found so refreshing. Thanks for sharing what you found on the subject.

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