Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Discipleship, Spiritual Growth, and Christian Living, John the Baptist Prepares the Way for Jesus, Everyone Must Die! A cursory reading of the text portrays Jesus as acting quite out of character, using his divine power in selfish anger to curse a mere tree because it did not act contrary to nature by providing him fruit out of season to satisfy his hunger. Let us now consider how the facts provided by Mark serve to clarify the meaning of what would otherwise be a troubling passage. The first three verses of this section form the second part of the story of the fig tree (11:12–14), which sandwiches the account of the cleansing of the temple. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984. 48 (1981); 264-304. Mark 11:20-25 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) The Lesson from the Withered Fig Tree. “The Cursing of the Fig Tree.” Christian Century. A close look at these accounts provides insights regarding why Jesus chose to curse this fig tree. When Jesus made the statement to the tree, Mark notes that “his disciples heard it” (14c). Jesus cursing the fig tree is recorded in both Matthew 21:18-22 and Mark 11:12-14, 20-25. All rights reserved worldwide. He resumes the fig tree story with these words, “In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Events have meaning beyond their face value; they become significant as they are interpreted. Read Mark 11 commentary using Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete). Oct 28 Mark 11:12-25 | The Lesson of the Fig Tree. Once we recognize that the fig tree incident is recorded as a teaching situation, the lesson of which is given in the events and sayings of Jesus in the following verses, the reasons for Mark’s letting the reader know that Jesus was hungry (12), that he knew the distant fig tree was in leaf (13), and that it was not the season for figs (14), begin to come into focus. Next, Jesus instructs his disciples, using the figure of the fig tree, about what will befall the nation that has rejected its king (12-14). Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. 21 Then Peter # Lk 6:14; Ac 10:32 remembered and said to Him, “Rabbi, # Jn 11:8 look! Jesus quotes Isaiah 56:7, pointing out that the temple is to be a house of prayer for all peoples (17). 13:6-9). Christ rides triumphantly into Jerusalem, Mark 11:1-11. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. 12 vols. And Jesus answered them, "Have faith in God." The sea was the place of destruction (cf. First, we need to note that “his disciples heard it” (14c). NIV, Storyline Bible, Comfort Print: Each Story Plays a Part. say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway … Sign up here! Birdsall, J. Neville. 18 vols. Picking up the story in verse 20, after the cleansing of the temple, we find that the fig tree had not only withered away, but had withered away to its roots (20). ... Finding himself in want of food, he went to a fig-tree, which he saw at some distance, and which being well adorned with green leaves he hoped to find enriched with some sort of fruit. This is what the chief priests and the scribes, by contrast, did not have. Mark 11:12-14; 20-21. 2 in The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Mark's account varies in sequence from Matthew's account as it is written in two sections: First, after departing the temple, Jesus sees the fig tree in leaf, but no fruit found, followed by cursing [Mark 11:12-14]. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. What scholars hotly contest is just what Mark intended to communicate with his arrangement of the stories. Mark is emphasizing the identity and authority of Jesus, and the monumental consequences of accepting or rejecting him. A Hypothesis.” New Testament Studies 8 (1962); 276-281. Mark 11:13, ESV: "And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. The barren fig tree cursed, Mark 11:12-14. The central issue is twofold: 1) no fruit can be borne unless one recognizes and accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Master and 2) to accept Jesus Christ is to bear fruit for God. 11:15-18pp — Mt 21:12-16; Lk 19:45-47; Jn 2:13-16, NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, Red Letter Edition: Bringing to Life the Ancient World of Scripture, NIV, Beautiful Word Bible Journal, Acts, Comfort Print, NIV, Story of Jesus: Experience the Life of Jesus as One Seamless Story, NIV, Beautiful Word Bible Journal, Romans, Comfort Print, NIV, Beautiful Word Bible Journal, Luke, Comfort Print. The fact that Jesus was hungry provides not only the immediate reason to approach the tree (a fact essential to the narrative — approaching a fruitless tree only to be disappointed would be meaningless unless someone was hungry), it is also vital to the prophetic declaration Jesus was to make. Although some scholars prefer to see “this mountain” (23) as referring to the Mount of Olives (Gundry 649; Lane 410), it would be consistent with the point of the passage if it refers to the temple mount, as asserted by Hooker: Whatever its origin, the inclusion of the saying at this point suggests that Mark is now interpreting it of the temple mount. Chapter 11, therefore, is consistent with the overall focus of the Gospel of Mark: the identity and authority of Jesus. In this context the fig tree symbolizes Israel in Jesus’ day, and what happens to the tree the terrible fate that inevitably awaited Jerusalem (400). New Testament Introduction. At a distance, Jesus sees a fig tree with leaves, and being hungry, He approaches it hoping to find some fruit, since a fig tree often produces figs earlier than it produces foliage. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. And Peter remembered and said to him, "Master, look! As William Telford’s extensive research demonstrates, the fig tree held a special place in both Jewish and Graeco-Roman culture (Telford 277). Another view of why Mark points out that Jesus was hungry is suggested by A. de Q. Robin in connection with Micah 7:1-6: It is quite conceivable that seeing the fig tree brought this Micah passage to the mind of Jesus and in accordance with the Rabbinic practice of indicating a passage of scripture by quoting its opening words, he was heard by the disciples to say: “My soul desires the first ripe fig.” This could quite easily lead to the misunderstanding that he was hungry, when in fact he was commenting on the state of the nation and its leaders, before pronouncing the judgement of God upon them first in the symbolical action of cursing the fig tree, then in the cleansing of the Temple (280). Its foliage signals that it should have early figs. 11. The mountains of institutionalized worship, of fruitless reliance on systems, formulas, and traditions of human origin to bring about righteousness melt away before the sheer power of faith in what God does in Jesus Christ. Jesus and his disciples were walking from Bethany (12), where they had spent the night (11), toward Jerusalem (15). The importance of forgiveness then becomes plain (25). Most scholars believe that Mark was the first gospel and was used as a source by the authors of Matthew and Luke. The scribes and chief priests are enraged, Mark 11:18. 21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi,(J) look! NIV Reverse Interlinear Bible: English to Hebrew and English to Greek. 21 Then Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! He made this fig-tree an example, not to the trees, but to the men of that generation. (H), 19 When evening came, Jesus and his disciples[c] went out of the city. The Gospel of Mark. In this paper, I will suggest that Mark intentionally designed the account as it stands for the purpose of intensifying the meaning of Jesus’ identity and authority, as well as declaring the fate that awaited Jerusalem. As Mark sets up the story, he points out several facts. Its fruit, whether fresh, dried, or pressed into cakes was highly esteemed. The unexpected and incongruous character of Jesus’ action in looking for figs at a season when no fruit could be found would stimulate curiosity and point beyond the incident to its deeper significance (400). (Matthew does not include the clause, “it was not the season for figs.” This is easily explained by the fact that Matthew’s Judean readership would know that spring is not the season for figs (Cotter 63), something that would not necessarily be evident to all of Mark’s readers.) See How They All Connect. Mark. 2 in The Daily Bible Study Series. But this particular tree draws Jesus’s attention because it already has a full covering of leaves. Furthermore, the general corruption of the High Priesthood and the religious leadership is evidenced by the fact that they responded to Jesus’ zeal for the sanctity of the temple by deciding to kill him (18)—the supreme declaration of their refusal to accept his identity and authority. Upon reaching the tree, all He finds are leaves; the tree had produced no fruit. 25:14-30), expects what he has given to be put to use in his service to bring honor and glory to him. Gaebelein, Frank E., ed. Works Cited. 2:12; Isa. 11:12-18 Christ looked to find some fruit, for the time of gathering figs, though it was near, was not yet come; but he found none. Mark. Many Markan scholars maintain that the fig tree episode is a veiled commentary on the temple while some others are skeptical. It’s an early bloomer. Intro: We are walking with Jesus and His disciples through the last week of His earthly life.It is amazing that Jesus was able to pack so much activity into a seven day period of time. “The Withering of the Fig-Tree (Mark xi. He expects to find a bit of fruit, but there is none. In contrast to Jewish expectation that at the Last Day “the mountain of the house of the Lord” would be exalted and “established as the highest of the mountains” (Micah 4:1), Jesus now pronounces judgement on it and declares that it will be submerged in the sea. In this case, the response from those who “heard it,” unlike his disciples in 14c, is to reject Jesus and look for ways to kill him. In contrast, we find Jesus again teaching immediately after he cleansed the temple (17), and Mark tells the reader that “when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they were looking for a way to kill him” (18). Peter remembered…” (11:20-21; emphasis added). David McLemore. THE FRUITLESS FIG TREE. After the worshipful coronation, that triumphal entry, Jesus “went into the temple. Remarkably Jesus pronounces a curse on the tree, saying it … 18 vols. Jesus’ destruction of the fig tree, then, besides demonstrating his identity and authority as Judge of the nation of Israel (which is the primary purpose of the miracle) would have also demonstrated his superiority over the gods of the empire (289). These range from flatly rejecting the authenticity of the account to blaming the confusion on a problem of “misplaced clauses habitual with Mark” (Cotter 66). In the Jewish scriptures the people of Israel are sometimes represented as figs on a fig tree (Hosea 9:10, Jeremiah 24), or a fig tree that bears no fruit (Jeremiah 8:13), and in Micah 4:4 the age of the messiahis pictured as one in which each man would sit under his fig tree without fear; the cursing of the fig tree in Mark and Matthew and the parallel story in Luke are thus symbolically directed against the Je… Hooker, Morna D. The Gospel According to St. Mark. When Jesus is walking to Jerusalem, he is hungry and finds a fig tree by the side of the road. Robin, A. de Q. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’[a]? 20 In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. 21:19 And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. 12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Jesus’ words were intended to instruct his disciples, and the incident, therefore, was intended to provide the opportunity to teach them and the reader. Its sap was used in the production of cheese. The account of the cursing of the fig tree (11:12-14, 20-26) is interrupted by the description of Jesus’ cleansing of the temple (15-19). Mark 11:13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if there was any fruit on it. Its leaves and other parts provided medicines. Next, Jesus and his disciples pass by the fig tree on the way back to Jerusalem and find that Jesus’ declaration that no one would eat fruit of it again had become reality, which leads to instruction about faith, prayer and forgiveness (20-26). Unless indicated otherwise, all scripture quotations on this website are from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Mark prepares the readers for an intercalation with the words, “And his disciples heard it” (11:14; emphasis added). Vol. The focus is, rather, on the nation, the temple, the Jewish leadership. 12-14, 20-22).” The Expository Times.73 (1962); 191. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1976. Jesus’ cursing of the unfruitful fig tree presents Christians with a dilemma unique in the Gospels. 9:10, 16; Joel 1:7; Micah 7:1-6), while the destruction of the fig tree is associated with judgment (Hos. The only thing that awaits those who will not accept his authority, who will not believe in him and follow him, is judgment — complete destruction, “from the roots.” Conversely, what awaits those who believe in him, who forgive as they are forgiven, who, only through faith in him, are able to remove all obstacles and barriers to true life, is eternal communion with God and all the saints — from every nation — gathered in triumphal joy in the spiritual temple that shall never need cleansing. This a-b-a structure makes evident the connection between the fig tree and the temple (Lane 400). For any variety of reasons, primarily their desire to hold on to what was most valuable to them, they would not accept the identity and authority of Jesus as Messiah and Lord. ... 13 # Matt. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1974. In fact, to have faith in God is to accept the identity and authority of Jesus. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1993. 24:32ff), etc. 11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. The fig tree you cursed has withered!” Copyright © 2019 by Zondervan. Looking for a fundamental understanding of the Bible? Upon coming to the tree expecting to find something to eat, Jesus instead discovered that the fig tree had no fruit on it and cursed the tree saying, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” (Matthew 21:19; Mark 11:14). He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve. Before we consider the answer to that question, we need to take note of additional facts provided by Mark. Barclay, William. “For It Was Not the Season for Figs.” The Catholic Bible Quarterly. ( = Matthew 21:12-22 Luke 19:45-48 ). 3:4; cf. (Mark 11:20-22 RSV) Does that answer not strike you as strange? First, Jesus is identified and hailed as the one who comes in the name of the Lord, who ushers in the kingdom of the Messiah, the son of David (1-11). Hull, Jr., Roger. Vol. Jesus' miracle involving the fig tree (Matthew 21:18-22; Mark 11:12-14, 20-24) is the only one in which He brings judgment by a miracle.All the other miracles are acts of goodness and mercy. But the lesson of the withered fig tree is not merely that God expects fruit. Perhaps of greatest significance, however, in Jesus’ selection of a fig tree as the symbol of Israel’s judgment are three other factors: First, in Greco-Roman culture the fig tree was associated with various deities, primarily the tree god Dionysus (284). They went along, they saw the fig Tree. ” Journal for theological... To find out if it might have any fruit, but to men... 2 in the distance a fig tree withered away to its roots Jewish leadership ” 22. 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