In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”
The week leading to Jesus’ crucifixion was an eventful week for Jesus and His disciples on many levels. Before chasing out the money changers and the sellers of animals from the temple, Jesus cursed a fig tree. This was an unusual miracle that is not talked about enough. It was a warning to the disciples about Jesus’s expectations for their ministry and a demonstration of the Lord’s power over creation.
Why did Jesus curse the fig tree? Jesus cursed the fig tree because it had no figs though its leaves were green. Traditionally, "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."
Throughout the Bible, a fig tree is often used symbolically to represent Israel. “The presence of a fruitful fig tree was a symbol of blessing and prosperity for the nation of Israel. Likewise, the absence or death of a fig tree would symbolize judgment and rejection.” By cursing the fig tree on its way to Calvary, Jesus was highlighting that Israel was spiritually dead, despite the fact they were very outwardly very religious with all the sacrifices and ceremonies that were part of their religious traditions. In so doing, Jesus was demonstrating that Israel was spiritually barren because its religious leaders refused to believe in Him and acknowledge His Lordship as the long-awaited Messiah.
As Jesus expected the fig tree to have fruits, He expects His followers to always bear spiritual fruits. Jesus gave believers the Holy Spirit so our spiritual leaves can remain verdant until we transition to glory. The Holy Spirit supplies believers with rich soil and nutrients so we do not wither and bear fruits. Yet, it is up to us to remain connected to Christ and do His great commission work in season and out of season.
The disciples were surprised that the fig tree was indeed cursed. Jesus used that opportunity to teach them about the power of faith. God expects us to bear fruits because He has given us the power and authority to do so. However, that power can only be activated by faith. Indeed, many believers are spiritually fruitless because they have no faith in God to save the lost.
During this Holy Tuesday, we should pray for the Holy Spirit to help us overcome doubt, fear, and worries with faith in the miracle-working God who sent His Son to die for our sins. God is still the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. His power and authority are still unrivaled. As we go out into the world in the name of Jesus, we can live in victory and bear spiritual fruits for His name’s sake.
The fig tree looked good, but it was barren. In Romans 2:10, Paul warns the Jews about having a form of godliness while denying the power of the God who was incarnated through Christ Jesus. In the same way, believers need to do more than just have the appearance of religiosity. We cannot be content with church membership. We were saved to become disciples of Jesus Christ and do His great commission work. The Lord is not impressed with religious appearances, He wants us to worship Him in Spirit and truth as we bear spiritual fruits.
Questions for Personal Reflection
What lessons have you learned from the cursed fig tree?
Why does God expect us to do more than the appearance of religiosity?
Prayer- Blessed Father, please help me to be a fruit-bearing disciple of Jesus Christ, and not just have the appearance of godliness. Reveal to me areas where I am spiritually dead and prune me continuously so I can be more spiritually fruitful.