When Jesus cursed the fig tree, He wasn’t giving into a moment of disgust or a sudden fit of rage. He was not hangry and, in some divine moment of retribution, testing His power. There are a number of things wrong with this idea, and I’ll bet, even if you didn’t consider Him overly emotional at the time, chances are, you figured He did it because He could.
However, we know that: (1) He did not sin (Heb 4:15), (2) He emptied Himself of His glory when He came to earth and became like men (Php 2:7), (3) He did the Father’s works, not His own (Jn 14:10). The Father had no reason to curse a fig tree simply for not bearing figs. I’ll bet there were many fig trees around in a similar condition.
Instead, we must look at the scene in context. Where was Jesus going and why?
In Mark, chapter 11, we find Jesus entering Jerusalem amongst the acclaim of the people, His triumphal entry. In verse 11, we are told He then entered “into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve.” Notice, He LOOKED AROUND in the temple. This is important to note because in verse 15, He enters the temple again and has a different reaction.
“And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves.” (Mark 11:15)
Here, again, is what looks like Jesus impulsively getting angry. We think He enters and finds, unexpectedly, the place full of moneychangers and other riffraff. Overcome, He proceeds to chase them out, spittle flying.
But wait. Wasn’t He just there looking around?
In Mark 11:12-14, we find the cursing of the fig tree. Verse 12 begins, “On the morrow.” So a day had elapsed. One single day. He goes in, looks around, leaves, curses the fig tree, and returns THE NEXT DAY.
But the temple is now filled with buyers and sellers that weren’t there before? Not likely.
It was Passover. That year’s celebration was not any different in behavior than any other. People came to Jerusalem to give sacrifices, and they would need to purchase the animals or other objects for that purpose. Nor was this Jesus’ first Passover. He grew up in the area and wasn’t unfamiliar with Jewish practices. That’s even ridiculous to consider.
What happened then? Why insert the cursing of a random fig tree into the story?
Well, look at His words to those in the temple. He said, “Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.” (Mk 11:17)
If Jesus spoke the words of the Father, if He did only the works of the Father, then the Father sent Him back in there. The Father wanted to clean His house. It was meant to be a place of prayer for ALL NATIONS, not only to Israel but also the Gentile world. A foreign idea, at the time. Instead, God’s house was filled with thieves.
Where else did Jesus refer to thieves in the gospels? That would be in John 10, and John 10 comes after John 9 where Jesus healed a man blind from birth and the religious leaders took exception to it. They dragged the healed man before the council to explain, then dragged his parents in to prove the man had been born blind, all under the threat of excommunication. Still not satisfied, they grilled the man again, flew into a rage at his response, and kicked him out anyway. Jesus, hearing what happened, searches the healed man out and reveals Himself. The Pharisees overhear His words and try to trap Him again.
Now, turn to John 10:1. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is A THIEF AND A ROBBER.” Add in John 10:8, “All that ever came before me are THIEVES AND ROBBERS: but the sheep did not hear them.” Also, John 10:10, “THE THIEF cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
Do you see it? The THIEVES AND ROBBERS, He referred to, were the Pharisees and other religious leaders, whose actions He tied directly to the devil. Jesus came to give life, to lead the sheep as the rightful Shepherd, but those who knew the letter of the law, who should be guiding the sheep until He came, had no idea of the Spirit behind it but were filled with the enemy they were supposed to stand against.
We can find this same picture drawn in the story of the Good Samaritan. Who passed by the man beaten and left on the road? A priest and a Levite. (Lk 10:31-32) Consider also Jesus’ words in Matthew 23 where He railed against the Pharisees calling them “whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.”
Now, look back at Jesus throwing out the moneychangers. Jesus, having looked around inside the temple the day before, is returning under His Father’s orders to cleanse it, a deliberate thing, not accidental or on the spur-of-the-moment. As He passes by a fig tree (that He was not surprised to find), it appears green on the outside when actually, it is unfruitful. It looks like a fig tree should look, but it isn’t doing what a fig tree should be doing.
NO MAN EAT FRUIT OF THEE HEREAFTER FOREVER. And a day later, the tree was dead, a perfect image of those serving themselves in the temple and not God. (Mk 11:20)
YOU HAVE MADE MY TEMPLE A DEN OF THIEVES.
The Lord spoke words to me about the church. I must preface them by saying I point no finger at anyone specifically. He did not give me names, and if He had, I would omit them. I must also say these words are His, not mine. I am being obedient to His voice to post them. I am not inclined toward being accusatory. In fact, that goes against being a believer of Christ. It is not my job to judge. God, alone, knows the heart. With all of that said, I must release the following:
“Thus saith the LORD, Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom I have put away? or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away.” (Is 50:1)
The Lord says, "There are those in the church who have given me a bill of divorcement. They have severed all ties with me and no longer show me ‘first love,’ yet they have continued to operate as if we remain united. They are severed from me but dress like me and smile and operate, all the while, playing with demons. They have become altogether corrupt. I will expose those whose image inwardly no longer resembles mine. It will be horrific, but do not let the fall of others change your faith. I know those who are mine. I see the thoughts and intents of the heart. As I saw David's heart over that of his brother's, I look not on the outward appearance, if you are tall and well-dressed. I desire honor, integrity, and right decisions. I desire faith, and sometimes, faith is more about standing than receiving. I see faith like a beacon on a hill. It is evident to me. What may feel like a struggle to you is a glowing path of faith in my eyes. But where those have chosen darkness, how great is that darkness. Turn to me, my people, turn and be healed, see my mercy before my judgment, seek shelter in me, or this house you've built on shifting sands will fall and great will be the fall of it."
“And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” (Mt 7:26-27)
Image by Jason Goh from Pixabay
Suzanne D. Williams, Author