Why did Jesus Curse the Fig Tree?
Some of the great tourist attractions include tombs and mausoleums. The Great Pyramid of Giza was built as a royal tomb for the Pharaoh. Most of these royal coffins are adorned and filled with gold and precious jewels. The Taj Mahal is a beautiful mausoleum built in memory of the wife of a Mughal emperor, which has both their tombs. These tombstones are magnificently beautiful and the mausoleums astounding. In spite of its marvellous exteriors, within it lies corpses that are withered, rotting, awful and ugly.
Some people are like these tombs, they look good from the outside, but they are rotting inside. They are more concerned with their outward exposition, rather than their inward disposition. They are bothered about the reputation they hold in the eyes of people, instead of living the truth of God’s word. They care more about what people think of them, instead of what God thinks about them. They become people pleasers, instead of God pleasers.
Such people are called hypocrites, whose religion is just a show-off, instead of truly believing in God and walking in the Spirit. They desire the applause of men instead of a life in obedience to God. Those that fear and reverence people instead of fearing God. You may wonder what has hypocrisy to do with the fig tree. Why did Jesus curse the fig tree?
The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it. In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots (Mark 11: 12-14, 20).
In Palestine it is typical for the first fruits of figs to appear before the leaves appeared. Therefore, it is assumed that a tree with leaves on it would also have fruits. Although, it was not the season for figs around that time, the first fruits, would always blossom before it was the proper season for figs. When Jesus saw the fig tree from a distance, it had great foliage, which promised fruits. When he got closer he found no fruits on it, but only leaves. From the outward the tree looked fruitful, but the leaves were only a deception, the tree was barren, it did not produce any fruits.
The main purpose of a fruit bearing tree is to bear fruit. If it fails to bear fruit, it is useless. The fig tree symbolically represents Israel, God’s people, the believers and the Christians. Jesus’ curse on the fig tree to wither and die, determines God’s judgement on those who practice hypocrisy, those that practise religion without having a relationship with Jesus, those that have a sense of godliness, but bear no fruits. Having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people (2 Timothy 3:5 ESV).
People make a display of piousness but bear no fruits of piety. Christians who reject and grieve the Holy Spirit, those who deny the workings of the Holy Spirit and its power, refusing its gifts, fail to bear fruits of the Spirit. Sin of every kind is hiding behind the mask of hypocrisy. The leaves of the fig tree represent works without God, it is wasted human efforts in false religion. The fruits represent abiding in God, for without God we can do nothing. The fig tree withered from the roots. Hypocrisy is a root problem, if a person is not rooted in God’s word, but instead rooted in the world, he will produce no fruits or bad ones.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me, he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned (John 15:5-6). Fruits don’t grow automatically by itself, nor does it grow by human efforts. The only way for a fruit to grow, is for the branch to abide in the vine. Similarly, we can bear fruits only by abiding in the Holy Spirit.
If a person fails to abide in the Holy Spirit, he has no relations with God and does not belong to God and is fruitless. When a person does not belong to God, that person is destined for eternal judgement, he is cast off and thrown into the eternal fire. It’s easy to fool people with religion and hypocrisy, but God can see every heart and there’s no one that can deceive Him.
Many Christians live under the false assumption that since God is all merciful and loving, He won’t send anyone to hell. God is merciful and loving and He wants no one to go to hell, but if someone out of their own free will, disobeys Him, rejects Him and chooses to go to hell, God cannot save them since they refused His salvation.
He created us out of love and He gave His life on the cross, to pay a ransom for our sins, so we could have eternal life. He gave us His Holy Spirit, so that we abide in Him and bear fruits. Jesus loves sinners, but a sinner has to repent and accept Jesus as his Lord and Saviour, and be baptised in the Holy Spirit to receive salvation.
Throughout the gospels, we see Jesus compassionate for sinners, but Jesus despises those that are hypocrites. Those who pretend they belong to Him, but their hearts are corrupted with unrepentant sins. And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God (Luke 16:15 ESV).”
These are the days of grace and mercy. Although God’s grace and mercy are unlimited, the time we have is limited. God’s love and mercy are available to all who believe, but you have to receive it. What good does a billion dollars in a bank account profit a homeless man, if he never makes any withdrawals? He will stay homeless. Similarly, God’s mercy will do you no good, if you fail to repent and refuse to accept His mercy.
One day our time will come to an end. If you didn’t receive mercy and grace while you were alive, all you will have left is judgement, for God is just. He will judge you by the fruits you bore and if like the fig tree all you have are leaves and no fruits, you will be cast off and thrown into the fire.
How can a person get rid of hypocrisy? Sometimes, hypocrisy is difficult to detect, it’s a condition of one’s heart. Pray and ask God to show you the wickedness of your heart, sincerely repent of all your sins. Repentance is not just asking God to forgive you of your sins, but a decision to change from every wrongdoing. True repentance leads to salvation, and an earnest fellowship with the Holy Spirit will make you bear fruits and live a life that leads to eternity with Jesus Christ.