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Lessons From the Cursed Fig Tree – Why Did Jesus Curse the Fig Tree and the Fascinating Answer!

Most of us know the story of the Jesus cursing the fig tree in the Gospel of Mark. There are some great lessons from the cursed fig tree that we can extract and apply in our own lives. But first we have to ask the question, ‘Why did Jesus curse the fig tree?’  Why did He cause this tree to never produce fruit again simply because it had no figs? 

The answer is both fascinating and thought-provoking! So let’s dig into this Bible study on the fig tree and Jesus!

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Updated from 11/25/2019

Why Did Jesus Curse the Fig Tree? – A Bit Extreme?

Mark 11:12-14

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The next day, when they had left Bethany, He became hungry. Seeing from a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if He would find any fruit on it. When He came up to it, He found nothing except leaves, because it wasn’t the season for figs. And He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His disciples were listening.

TLV

When reading about this story, these verses sometimes leave people confused! I mean, after all, it appears Jesus curses the fig tree simply because He was hungry and it had no fruit to give Him even though it says it wasn’t even the season for figs! Seems a bit extreme at first glance, doesn’t it, especially seeing that it wasn’t even the season for them? But only at first glance!

Let’s examine this a bit further and see what lessons from the cursed fig tree Jesus is trying to teach us.

Why Did Jesus Curse the Fig Tree? – Understanding Fig Trees in Israel

In Israel, there are anywhere from two to three crops of figs per year. Each crop cycle goes through the same process.

The tree first produces its fruit and then leaves form. So if you see a fig tree with its leaves, one can assume its figs have already grown.

So Jesus, in verse 12, sees the fig tree at a distance and he spots that it has its leaves. He had every reason to believe it also possessed the fruit. However, upon reaching the tree, He saw only leaves. It had no figs!

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3 Lessons From the Cursed Fig Tree

So let’s examine why Jesus cursed the fig tree and what lessons from the fig tree we can learn:

1. False Appearances

Jesus cursed the fig tree because it had the appearance of fruitfulness, but it was deceptive. It lacked fruit.

It was a false appearance of bearing figs that caused Jesus to become irate with this tree!

He cursed this tree because it had the appearance of fruitfulness, but it was deceptive. It lacked fruit. Click To Tweet

Because the Bible is pretty clear that it was not yet even the season for figs, it made itself appear to be more advanced than the others and it made it seem at a distance to offer something substantial, but it offered nothing but leaves.

It was all pretense. This false appearance, in essence, was hypocrisy.

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2. Biblical Hypocrisy!

There are many times in scripture where Jesus addressed the topic of hypocrisy. He witnessed it so often and this tree was a vivid depiction of it!

One of these is Matthew 23:27-28:

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.

In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

NIV

Whitewashed Tombs

Like the whitewashed tombs Jesus references in these verses, the fig tree looked beautiful on the outside. It looked like it was ripe with fruit! But upon closer examination, it was a lie. It had nothing.

The parable of Jesus and the fig tree makes a point to tell us it was not the season for figs. So this tree gave the false appearance of being more advanced, more fruitful, than those around it. It appeared to have figs when all others around it did not! It made itself out to be something it wasn’t.

One of the lessons from the cursed fig tree we can take from this is Jesus has no tolerance for hypocrisy!

3. Living a Fruitful Life

This is a cautionary example for us from Jesus Himself. We must be careful we don’t give the world an appearance of having the fruit of the Spirit, of living a fruitful life, but, upon closer examination, we are no different than the world.

We can give off the appearance of having a fruitful life but, when people look more closely, there is nothing but leaves!

The Fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

Are we walking in the fruit of the Spirit? Are we truly living a fruitful life or are we living a life of hypocrisy?

We must be careful we don't give the world an appearance of having the fruit of the Spirit but, upon closer examination, we are no different than the world. Click To Tweet

Lessons From the Cursed Fig Tree – Examples of Fruitfulness in the Bible

John 15:1-11 says:

“I am the real vine, and my Father is the gardener. Every branch which is part of me but fails to bear fruit, he cuts off; and every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes, so that it may bear more fruit. Right now, because of the word which I have spoken to you, you are pruned. Stay united with me, as I will with you — for just as the branch can’t put forth fruit by itself apart from the vine, so you can’t bear fruit apart from me.

“I am the vine and you are the branches. Those who stay united with me, and I with them, are the ones who bear much fruit; because apart from me you can’t do a thing. Unless a person remains united with me, he is thrown away like a branch and dries up. Such branches are gathered and thrown into the fire, where they are burned up.

“If you remain united with me, and my words with you, then ask whatever you want, and it will happen for you. This is how my Father is glorified — in your bearing much fruit; this is how you will prove to be my talmidim.

“Just as my Father has loved me, I too have loved you; so stay in my love. If you keep my commands, you will stay in my love — just as I have kept my Father’s commands and stay in his love. I have said this to you so that my joy may be in you, and your joy be complete.

CJB

Jesus the Vine:

The key to the fruitfulness in the Bible?  Abide in Him!

What Does It Mean to Abide?

The Greek word for “abide” is menō. It means (according to Strong’s Concordance):

to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy):—abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry (Strong)

The key here is to dwell in Him and His Word. When we dwell in Him and in His Word and in prayer we will produce more fruit because we draw from the source!

And as we continue to bear fruit, He will prune is so that we bear even more!

Like a tree draws its nourishment from the root, we draw our spiritual nourishment from Him and then, like the tree, we bring forth good fruit!

Pruning in the Bible

And, as a good gardener, God prunes us. And as God prunes us, the old, dead things are removed to promote the growth of the new. The dead things are removed so fruit can grow in more abundance.

The definition of prune is:

cutting away dead or overgrown branches or stems, especially to increase fruitfulness and growth

How Does God Prune Us?

God removes our guilt, our shame. He removes our old habits, our old ways of doing things and heals our emotional wounds.  He replaces the old recordings that we play over and over again in our minds, things people spoke over uswith what HE says about us.

He does this through His Word! As we study His Word, he prunes us! We grow in Him and allow Him to remove those dead things from our life through His grace and His mercy!ir?source=bk&t=live31 20&bm id=default&l=ktl&linkId=6a4d885d79d69928bc254d8215572575& cb=1543509397144

As pruning a tree makes it grow more full and vibrant, producing more and better fruit, we too will grow in Him and produce more fruit!

And as we allow this pruning and allow that new fruit to grow in abundance, we never have to be concerned with only displaying leaves!

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NIV – Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

CJB – Taken from the Complete Jewish Bible by David H. Stern. Copyright © 1998. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Messianic Jewish Publishers, 6120 Day Long Lane, Clarksville, MD 21029. www.messianicjewish.net.

Tree of Life (TLV) – Scripture taken from the Holy Scriptures, Tree of Life Version*. Copyright © 2014,2016 by the Tree of Life Bible Society.  Used by permission of the Tree of Life Bible Society.

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