Many people are deeply troubled by Jesus' cursing of the fig tree. How could a gentle, loving Savior be so vindictive?
Now undoubtedly Jesus used the fig tree as an example for our benefit. We can understand the severity of Jesus' treatment of the fig tree in light of the gravity His warning. However, what about the fig tree itself? Didn't Jesus also love the fig tree? Is it fair that we obtain benefit at the fig tree's expense, even if it is "just" a fig tree? Or is the fig tree merely an object for Him to use at whim, a "vessel doomed to destruction" through no fault of its own?
Jesus did not curse the tree lightly, in a fit of pique. He did not treat the tree as something valueless, to be disposed of at whim. God cares tenderly for all of His creation, whether man or beast, animal or vegetable -- for John 3:16 says, "God so loved the WORLD", and even the trees and stones praise Him (Isaiah 55:12, Luke 19:40). In fact, Jesus spoke more in sorrow than in anger, as when He prophesied the doom of Jerusalem. (Luke 13:33-34)
Clearly the tree itself was blameless, for it was not yet the season for figs (Mark 11:13). In fact, the curse Jesus spoke over the innocent fig tree was the same curse which He undeservedly bore on His own body, and the same curse which His martyrs throughout the ages have willingly borne for the sake of His name. Only through the death of the guiltless may the guilty be saved from death: for as the apostle Paul said, "We who live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us , but life in you. " (2 Cor. 4:11-12)
The premature tree is an appropriate representation of Israel. When the Lord came, the people of Israel had no fruit. It was indeed impossible for them to have fruit, for the season of righteousness is brought on by the death of Jesus. But the tree means more than this: it represents Jesus Himself. For He too died without fruit, as Isaiah prophesied: "Who can speak of His descendants? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of My people He was stricken" (Isaiah 53:8, NIV). So the cursed tree speaks not just of Israel, but also of Christ's sufferings, and the sufferings of those who follow Him. For only through His death, and by our dying with Him, may we reach maturity, bear fruit, fulfill our life's calling, and enter into perfect joy.
When we rise again with
our new, glorified bodies, could it be that we shall find that some glorified
form of this same fig tree occupying a place of honor in God's eternal
Copyright © 2001 CrossPollen
Last Revised: June 1, 2001
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