Why Did Jesus Curse the Fig Tree?

Cursing the fig tree is one of the miracles of Jesus in the Gospels.  It is included in the gospels of Mark and Matthew.  The account is found in Mark 11:12-14 and Mark 11:20-25.
“Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry.  And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves,
He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it.  When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the
season for figs.  In response Jesus said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.”  And His disciples heard it.”  Mk 11:12-14
“Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.  And Peter, remembering, said to Him,
“Rabbi, look!  The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.”  So Jesus answered and said to them,  “Have faith in God.
For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, “Be removed and be cast into the sea, and does not doubt in his
heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.  Therefore I say to you, whatever
things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.  “And whenever you stand praying, if
you have anything against anyone, forgive him that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”  Mk 11:20-25
You will also find the account in Matthew 21:18-22.
“Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry.  And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found
nothing on it but leaves, and said to it,  “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.”  Immediately the fig tree withered away.  And
when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither away so soon?”  So Jesus answered and said
to them,  “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, 
but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done.  And whatever things you ask in
prayer, believing, you will receive.”  Mt. 21:18-22
Please note that the term “curse” is not used in biblical parlance as in the modern sense of profanity.  A curse was a pronouncement of judgment upon a person or object (cf. Mt. 25:41).  Christ’s action represented an object-lesson that the disciples needed to learn.
When the Lord first saw the tree, he was yet “afar off.”  He could only discern that it had leaves.  When Jesus arrived at the tree, He observed that it was fruitless.  Alfred Edersheim, Biblical scholar and author of the book “The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah”, wrote that “in Palestine the fruit appears before the leaves” (p. 374).  So for one to see a leafed fig tree, it was a normal assumption that there was fruit on the tree.
Many fig trees bear more than just one crop.  There is something know today as a ‘Breba’ crop, or an ‘out of season’ crop.  The Breba crop is produce on ‘a mature branch’ of the previous year’s wood, unlike the main crop of figs that grow on the current year’s new, green wood.
A couple of insights will help us understand this story.  In the Old Testament the fig tree often stood as a symbol for the nation of Israel (Jeremiah 8:13; Hosea 9:10).  Secondly, this story is placed next to the story of Jesus cleansing the temple in Jerusalem.
When Jesus had entered Jerusalem the previous day, he was expecting to find the religious leaders (Priests, Rabbis, Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes and others) feeding spiritual fruit to the hungry pilgrims.  Instead they had turned the Lord’s house into a den of thieves.  As one pastor, Robert Morris, put it, “they are hypocrites, people who have the leaves to show but don’t have the fruit.”
Cursing the fig tree was Jesus’s way of saying the nation of Israel had become spiritually barren.  They had the form of religion only.  They knew the right words to say but their hearts were far from honoring God.

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