Posted by: everynation | June 13, 2011

The Fig Tree

By Paul Barker

“And on the next day, when they had departed from Bethany, He became hungry. And 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. And He answered and said to it, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again!’ And His disciples were listening.”

At first glance, this event might look a little strange. Why would Jesus curse a fig tree when He knew it was not the season for figs? Is it possible that He contrived the entire scene to create a memorable learning experience, one that the disciples would not – could not – forget. Maybe that is why Mark says, “And His disciples were listening.”

The reason for Jesus’ unusual behavior was revealed the next day.

“And as they were passing by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up. And being reminded, Peter said to Him, ‘Rabbi, behold, the fig tree which You cursed has withered.’”

Jesus is famous for non sequiturs. (A non sequitur is a statement that does not follow logically from what preceded it.) This is a classic example.

“And Jesus answered saying to them, ‘Have faith in God. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, “Be taken up and cast into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it shall be granted him.’” (Mark 11:12-23)


The disciples must have been thinking: “Jesus, I know we are to have faith in God, but what does that have to do with, ‘the fig tree has withered.’”


Jesus was teaching His disciples that what He did to the fig tree is an example of how faith works. Jesus spoke the end result to the tree, “No one will ever eat fruit from you again,” and then walked away. The next day, He showed no intention to check the fig tree to see if His word had been accomplished – He knew it had. He spoke, and it was done. The message to the disciples was clear: “This is how faith works!”

A young Bible School student decided he would put this principle in action. Outside his dorm room there was a small hill – no mountain, but a good place for his faith to start. He closed his eyes and said confidently, “Hill, I command you to be taken up and cast into the sea; I do not doubt in my heart, but I believe that what I say is going to happen.” He opened his eyes fully expecting the hill to be gone, but to his surprise and dismay, it was not! Discouraged and confused, he finished the school term and left for summer break.

When he returned in the fall, he was assigned his former room. Unpacking his clothes, he glanced out his window and saw bulldozers had cleared the hill for new dormitories! He had commanded the hill to move, and it had – not how he imagined it would – but it was gone nonetheless!

Paul Barker is currently the Director of Leadership Development for Every Nation Ministries. He leads the team that produces the ENLI curriculum for North America and that trains vocational ministers to do university and high school ministry.

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